For decades, students at Michigan football games were assigned seats, with the seniors getting the best ones. But last year, according to the Michigan athletic department, roughly a quarter of the 22,000 people in the student section were no-shows. So, athletic director Dave Brandon decided to switch the student section from assigned seating to general admission – first come, first seated – to get them to show up on time. Or, at all.
In fairness, growing student apathy is not unique to Michigan, nor is the move to general admission seating. And not all top programs allow every student who wants season tickets to get them, as Michigan always has.
Nonetheless, the students, who were accustomed to starting in the end zone as freshmen, then moving year by year toward mid-field, went ballistic. They gathered more than 2,000 signatures for a petition, and 1,500 “likes” for their movement on a Facebook page, just three hours after the announcement. In an admittedly unscientific poll conducted by The Michigan Daily, 85 people said they “love it” while 497 said they “hate it.”
Yes, some students can display a breathtaking sense of entitlement. And they won’t get much sympathy from the average fans, who have to pay two or three times more for their tickets, plus pay out a Personal Seat Donation – and that’s only after they get off a wait list, which costs another $500 just to get on it.
But before we bash the students too much, perhaps we should ask why they’re not showing up. Getting mad at your paying customers for not liking your product as much as you think they should, then punishing them for it, is probably not something they teach at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.