Commencement’s Black Market

Alex Park, Managing Editor

As the school year winds down, four years of handing over countless dollars to SUNY Oneonta is nearing an end for some.

However, there is one more fee that some students may have to fork over before school is all said and done: extra graduation tickets.

Although SUNY Oneonta does distribute four tickets when you sign up for the commencement ceremony in Dewar Arena, there is often a high demand for extra tickets from students who have their family and possibly their extended family wanting to view the commencement ceremony in person.

In an email sent out to the expected graduates, it specifically states, “Due to seating limitations, extra tickets are not available for any of the ceremonies.”

It’s almost become commonplace for students to sell extra tickets to their peers. Last May, there were more students willing to part with their extra tickets for free, but now the majority of students who have extra tickets seem to want compensation in return.

In the SUNY Oneonta Class of 2015 Facebook group, several students voiced their displeasure, calling it “sad to see people selling free tickets to gradation” and calling those who sell tickets “pathetic.”

This year, there have been no such posts shaming those who sell these tickets. Instead, it seems as if there are more buyers than sellers.

“It sucks that I may have to pay to be able to bring my whole family here instead of having to choose between my brother and sister-in-law on who gets to come. Everyone got [these tickets] for free. If you have extra tickets, give them to someone who has a family member that needs it or boyfriend/girlfriend. But at the same time, I understand that it is college and people need money,” said Nicole Schaal, a prospective May graduate.

In the SUNY Oneonta Class of 2016 Facebook group, the buyer’s market set the price range of commencement tickets to as low as $20 and as high as $100. There have also been some non-cash offers such as offering print quota and taking the seller out to eat at any Oneonta eatery. However, Schaal stated that some students would be willing to go above the price range set in the Facebook group.

“I know what my price range is just because I know it’s what I can afford but I’ve seen people willing to throw down at least $150 and I know people are willing to give more than that,” said Schaal.

According to SUNYAC’s website, the Dewar Arena holds a max capacity of 4,000 people. Of course not all 4,000 of the people occupying Dewar Arena at each ceremony will consist of ticketholders. One needs to account for the administration that will be running the event and, of course, the students graduating. All of these factors contribute to the fluctuating price and demand of commencement tickets.

Just how much of a demand is there for graduation tickets this year?

There were numerous attempts at trying to contact a ticket seller for this commencement ceremony but they could not be reached for comment. However, there were more than enough buyers.

A student who sold a ticket last year, who wished to remain anonymous, shared many of the same sentiments as many of the buyers, pulling the “we’re all college students” card.

“If there is a supply and demand for graduation tickets, why can’t I make a quick buck? I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” said the source.

However, there is hope for those who do want to see the commencement ceremony and still be on the same campus as the ceremony. In the same email that was sent out to the graduating class, it states that “Non-ticketholders will be able to view the commencement and school ceremonies via closed circuit television in the Instructional Resources Center and on Channel 74 of the campus broadcast system.”

So how much have the tickets sold for so far?

According to several student sources, there have been many transactions made that they have firsthand knowledge of. One of the students acknowledged that a ticket was sold to their friend for $100 and another was able to snag one for $60. Another source said that a ticket was sold to their roommate for almost $100.

One buyer, who wished to remain anonymous in hopes of not having a price be associated with their name, thinks it’s only a matter of a time before the prices become unreasonable.

“The hope is that I can snag it for a reasonable price. If it comes down to it, I’ll be willing to pay like $100 maybe even $150,” said the buyer. “What I really hope to happen is that one of my friends will just give me a ticket before the prices get jacked up the week before graduation. I can definitely see people willing to pay premium money. Like what are you gonna do? Tell someone in my family, ‘Hey, you gotta stay in the hotel room because we don’t have an extra ticket?’ It’s not fair.”

It’s definitely a seller’s market when it comes to graduation tickets. As graduation nears, the price of a ticket is bound to jump up in price. With the seller having nothing to lose if their extra tickets aren’t sold, they can hold out and keep their hands on the ticket, preventing those students who could use the tickets from having their loved ones attend the ceremony.

Unfortunately, there will be students and families who will be disappointed due to the hectic nature of this yearly black market.

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