Season ticket holders get the shaft

Students seem to have it pretty good when it comes to Kent State basketball games. We are usually the ones shown on TV clad in blue and gold facepaint, and we generally lead the chants to get the crowd’s blood boiling. And of course, we get into the games for free.

But for the dedicated season ticket holders sitting in the 460 chair-backed seats in the M.A.C. Center, things don’t look quite so cheery.

For the upcoming 2007-2008 season, the athletic department will switch to a donor-based seating plan that requires those sitting in the fancy seats to make a required $500 “donation.” This is, of course, in addition to the $247 price they’re already paying for each season ticket ($221 for faculty and staff).

Current season ticket holders who opt out of the required donation will be given the option of purchasing plain old bleacher seats, where they won’t be far from us rowdy students. For once, we feel bad for them. Shouldn’t $247 get a guy a little comfort?

Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said the purpose of the new donation policy is to create additional revenue to renovate the M.A.C. Center. These so-called “donors” become members of the Blue and Gold Athletics Fund, which provides scholarships to student athletes.

Kennedy said the fund works like a bank account that holds all the athletic department’s financial gifts.

While it’s nice if some of Kent State’s most dedicated want to hand over an extra $500 to the university, doesn’t the purpose of a charitable donation get lost when it’s required? If the athletics department was interested in generating more revenue, it should have just admitted to hiking the ticket price. But a $500 donation sounds much more altruistic than a $747 season ticket, doesn’t it?

Here’s the kicker – the “donation” and the ticket price aren’t even billed together, and both transactions must be done separately.

Alumna Patsy Bryner said it best when she told the Stater, “I don’t like forced giving.”

Neither do we, Patsy.

Kennedy said the department’s financial situation is good. But it doesn’t seem as though it’s doing too well if the department is implementing a program that forces already-generous Golden Flash supporters to fork over at least a couple hundred dollars more by calling it a donation.

Renovating the M.A.C. Center could be a wonderful thing, helping Kent State stay in the running with more prestigious and financially sound universities. And of course, we understand the financial burdens college can cause, so we support the scholarship fund.

But we wish Kennedy and the Athletic Department would call a proverbial spade a spade, and admit that what they’re really doing is jacking up prices. Inflation is nothing new, especially in higher education, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise. More importantly, it would bypass the intellectual insult this little game of semantics has thrown at us.

Forced giving isn’t really giving at all. There’s another word already established for “forced giving” – it’s called “taxation.”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Summer Kent Stater editorial board.