Ohio State graduation ticket limit increased to 6 for Obama speech
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 11:02
Some students worried about getting enough tickets for the Spring Commencement ceremony can breathe a little easier knowing they’ll be given at least two more than they were originally told.
Ohio State spokeswoman Gayle Saunders said the four ticket limit announced last week was only a starting point.
“Our whole goal along the way was to find a way to accommodate students and their guests,” Saunders said.
Students found out about the four ticket limit when it was announced that President Barack Obama would be delivering the Spring Commencement speech. The limit was put in place due to security measures, renovations to Ohio Stadium and the record number of graduating students.
The ticket allotment increase came when additional sections of the stadium were set to be open after adjusting the schedule for renovations in the stadium.
The stadium is scheduled to undergo renovations, and the OSU Football Spring Game on April 13 was moved to Cincinnati as a result. The renovations include replacing some concrete, but Saunders said it was too early to tell if the change would delay the project.
Saunders also said while the university didn’t expect for the ticket limit to remain at four, she said it’s too soon to tell if it will be raised to more than six.
“As we learn about spacing needs, we will take that into consideration,” she said.
Saunders said the university has heard feedback from students and parents on the ticket limit policy, and that “our priority is our students and their families during this special time.”
Commencement Speaker Selection Committee member and fourth-year in political science Niraj Antani said he gathered feedback from students and identified two possible solutions to some of the problems he had heard.
An online site where students could register how many tickets they need was created, and university officials looked at how the commencement layout could be restructured in the stadium to accommodate more guests.
“The solution came from students,” Antani said.
The system allows students to register how many tickets they will need and if they believe they will need more than six.
Since there is no way for the university to check how many tickets a student will actually need to accommodate their guests, it operates on the honor system.
“If you really don’t need six tickets, don’t get six tickets. Get however many you need,” Antani said. “I hope students take that into account. I wouldn’t want someone’s family not be able to come to graduation.”
Tom Reed, a fourth-year in information systems, said the ticket limit was just too low.
“Four tickets definitely wasn’t enough, I’m glad OSU kind of realized that,” Reed said. “Six tickets is definitely an improvement.”
He said however, students with larger families will still require more.
But Katelyn Barnett, a fourth-year in English and strategic communication, said the ticket limit increase wouldn’t affect her.
“I was only going to ever use two, so it doesn’t really affect me I guess,” she said. “I’ll probably just give my other tickets away or something.”
However, she said she feels empathic toward students that still need more than six tickets.
“It’s unfortunate … it should be about the families, they put money and time and heart in this and (in) getting students through school,” Barnett said.
Some students, concerned about the ticket limit, were offering to purchase tickets from others online, who are offering to sell single tickets for hundreds of dollars on Facebook and Craigslist.
However, Saunders said the university is firmly against graduation ticket sales.
“We do not condone the buying and selling of tickets. Our hope is that students go online and go through the (university) process and get their tickets,” she said.
Spring Commencement is scheduled for noon on May 5 in Ohio Stadium. Obama will deliver the speech exactly one year after he kicked off his re-election campaign at the Schottenstein Center.
Since then, Obama has visited campus twice: in August when he had lunch at Sloopy’s Diner in the Ohio Union, and in October when he delivered a speech on the Oval.
He also spoke on campus last March and in October 2010.
Obama will be the fifth president and the third sitting president to speak at an OSU commencement. The last sitting president to speak was George W. Bush in 2002.