I know that this message might get lost or ignored among the countless messages the Yale community hears everyday. Regardless, I am taking my shot and hoping for the best because this University taught me to be bold, to speak up against injustice and wrongdoing.
Given the struggle of getting tickets for the Yale-Harvard game — waking up at 5 a.m., standing in line for multiple hours on end, dealing with the repercussions of missed classes and being late to midterms — you might think that Yale students want just one thing: a chance to embrace college culture and enjoy precious moments with fellow students, rather than work for their own personal gain.
Yet immediately after sales closed, I came across a Yale student selling two Game tickets on “Free & For Sale,” a Yale Facebook group where students sell various items. In his post, he asked for a “best offer.” I texted him, offering $30 for each ticket. He responded by asking for $300 total, saying that this was the best offer he had received thus far, implying I should go even higher if I wanted a chance at his tickets.
As a student who is first-generation and low-income, how am I supposed to react? I know this student probably lined up for these tickets solely to sell them, to make a whopping 6 times what he had paid for them. Practices like ticket scalping bar low-income students from experiencing one of Yale’s most important traditions. My first year at Yale, I missed The Game because I couldn’t afford the costs. Now, I am a junior who is about to miss my last opportunity to attend The Game at Harvard as a student. Ticket exchanges are meant to be for individuals who cannot make it to The Game, or others who are trying to get better seats. I understand that some students believe they have the right to charge extra for their time spent getting the tickets, but $125 more per ticket is both exorbitant and cruel. This situation is not just happening at Yale either — similar actions by Harvard students have sparked condemnation from their resident deans, many of whom echoed The Game’s role in forming community. Ticket scalping also isn’t new at Yale. Rather, it’s a phenomenon that we saw at last year’s First-year Formal, a time-honored tradition for which there were not enough tickets for the entire first-year class to attend.
This is no different than the practices of late 19th-century American robber barons — buying everything up so the wealthy can monopolize sales and set prices.
I know that this might seem trivial. At the end of the day, it is just a ticket to a football game. But it exposes something bigger lurking behind the University’s claims of diversity, as well as the ignorance of students on campus. We hear so much about equality and equity, justice and righteousness in our seminars. Some of these causes inspire students to undertake careers in nonprofit organizations or volunteering, but are they actually applying these ideals to their daily lives? Or are they just pursuing these ventures for the purposes of virtue signaling, to be hailed as the new face of vulnerable communities while ignoring their day-to-day struggles?
It seems that the biggest advocates of immigrant rights, equality, political honesty and morality are sometimes the same ones who contribute to the plight of disadvantaged people on this very campus. The same people who preach about uplifting low-income people of color are the same ones who vie for jobs at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
It sickens me to contemplate the naked truth about some students, because I think that maybe, just maybe, the high rate of student enrollment in economic equality and social justice seminars doesn’t mean anything. Maybe all the heartwarming tales of students supporting women, minorities, immigrants and low-income students, and all the macroscopic advocacy we witness from different campus groups hailing their perseverance in the face of impossible odds — all this ideological agitprop is meant to obscure, conceal and decontextualize the harsh reality of students embracing dog-eat-dog capitalism.
We as students have a choice between apathy and inaction or awareness and action. The well-being of the present and future depends on it. Sincere care is needed, more so than official policies or Facebook posts. It needs to begin, rather, with how we treat each other in day-to-day life. Stop making noise and change your own conduct first — trust me, the rest of the world will fellow.
Mohamed Anwer Akkari is a junior in Saybrook College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.