Campus Newspaper Shames Students Selling Rose Bowl Tix

The Badger Herald named names.  In an editorial published Sunday, the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison listed more than 30 students it considered “the worst people on campus.”

The students’ misdeeds, according to the paper: They purchased coveted tickets to the Rose Bowl (sold out in 20 minutes) and then immediately attempted to resell them online, in many cases for a much higher price.

As the editorial notes, “Face value was $150. Some were trying to get the tickets for more than $400 a pop.  Truly, there is a special place in Hell for people who buy Rose Bowl tickets with the sole intention of profiting from them. It is entirely unfair to those who actually love this football team and were counting on a cheap face value ticket in order to make the trip to Pasadena an economic reality.”

According to an editor’s note, the piece was meant to be a wry attempt at capturing the frustration of the Badger faithful left without a ticket.  But its targeting of specific students and an earlier version that encouraged readers to “ridicule the ever-loving shit out of [those students]” has stirred controversy and “caught the attention of news organizations at both the state and national level.”

As an editorial response in The Daily Cardinal at the University of Louisville noted, “While the negativity toward those selling their tickets online was already present, the Herald‘s decision to single out 38 students has greatly magnified the issue. Multiple members of the list have received harassments, verbal attacks and death threats against both them and their families.”

The related question: Are the students accused of reselling their tickets really deserving of such a public shaming, even if it’s slightly in jest?  While the Herald did not contact the students it listed to discover their resale motivations, comments on the story and follow-up reports by other news media have painted a cloudier picture than a singleminded ‘greed is good’ obsession.

Some have stated that students’ decisions to resell is nothing more than their capitalistic right- and in a few cases are helping fund noble efforts.  As the mother of one student on the ‘worst’ list stated, “Although it would be a dream come true, [the student] cannot afford the trip to the Rosebowl, BUT he IS using his profit [from reselling his ticket] to pay his (and his girlfriend’s) expenses to go to South Carolina to work for Habitat for Humanity over Christmas break.”

The vitriol and enormity of the response to the piece has prompted editors to close the online comments section beneath it.  A statement added roughly a day after the editorial’s original posting reads: “This piece is by no means meant to be a call to take action against the [students named], simply a tongue-in-cheek commentary about an unfair ticketing practice, and we apologize if it was taken as anything more than that.”

What do you think– a rightful scolding of students or an editorial step too far???

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