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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    This or That: Free tickets for legislators — creating understanding or blatant bribery?

    This or That is a weekly feature where members of the Perspectives staff weigh in on a campus-related topic and pick their final verdict from two options. This week’s question is “Free tickets for legislators — creating understanding or blatant bribery?” Every member of the Arizona Legislature is offered free season tickets to UA home football games. Should they choose to accept, the legislators may sit anywhere they please from the nosebleeds to the comfy skybox. Six Republican and eight Democratic legislators will attend games this year.

    Verdict: blatant bribery

    It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone to see politicians taking more and more freebies these days. To politicians this is just a perk of the job, but to constituents, this is corrupt bribery. Arizona Legislators, the people who continuously cut funding to higher education, are being rewarded with free tickets to a university sporting event. Where has all common sense gone?

    The biggest fault in this lies with the University of Arizona. Since when did our university become yet another political lobbyist? What exactly has our university accomplished by doing this? It is rather insulting to students to know that their school is giving away free tickets to the same people that continuously cause them to pay more for their education each year. The UA isn’t helping our school by trying to bribe legislators in an already corrupt political world.

    -Joshua Segall

    Verdict: creating understanding

    Legislators are Wildcat fans too. Giving our representatives tickets to our sporting events gives them a chance to interact with UA students. It is important for them to get to know our community since they are the ones ultimately making the decisions that affect our districts. Many students do not know which district they belong to, let alone the name of their representative. When it comes down to it, they play a big part in our student funding. Instead of voting for a number on a ballot, they will know who they’re representing: the Wildcats. Knowing that will help them make the right decision in terms of education.

    Giving tickets to legislators shouldn’t be seen as a way to sway opinion. With or without tickets, legislators should be walking on the UA mall meeting students.

    It is not as if legislators are prancing around the stadium saying “Vote for me in the upcoming election.” Interacting with people from the community allows them to open up about their concerns and share ideas regarding how the legislators can improve Tucson. They are putting a face to their name when meeting their constituents at UA sporting events.

    -Jacquelyn Abad

    Verdict: blatant bribery

    Legislators shouldn’t accept tickets to sporting events or any other type of entertainment. They should purchase their tickets like the thousands of other citizens. I understand networking is a huge component of any job, however, it’s difficult for me to believe legislators intend to only network at the football games. For one of my classes, I recently attended a conference for city council members on how to be ethical and stay out of hot water. The speaker suggested never accepting anything for free, not even a pen. By first accepting the tickets and then attending the events, the legislators are challenging the ethics of their jobs. If they want to better communicate and understand their constituents, it’s pretty simple: pay just like the rest of us.

    -Kelly Hultgren

    Verdict: blatant bribery

    Giving members of the legislature free tickets to all home football games is shady. Former UA President Robert Shelton, and incoming executive director at the Fiesta Bowl, told The Arizona Republic that he thought lawmakers had paid for the tickets. But the UA spent $33,266 over the past five years to provide 878 free tickets to legislators and Gov. Jan Brewer, according to records analyzed by The Republic. I understand that roughly $33,000 must be chump change to a UA president but not being aware of it is unbelievable. I pity the Fiesta Bowl if Shelton is confusing free tickets with paid ones.

    Another representative of the UA said that the free tickets allow legislators a way to “show their support for a vital state institution.” Going to a game for free is not showing support. No one supports a restaurant by accepting a free meal every time they go. That’s mooching, not supporting.

    And if this is a form of bribery, it’s the stupidest form. “Hey, come to our football game and appreciate all the state funds that go toward it.” Oh wait; they don’t vote on uniforms in the legislature, they vote on tuition. Maybe the UA should take the stance of “hey, you’re cutting all of our funds. No more games for you.”

    -Michelle A. Monroe

    Verdict: creating understanding

    Corruptive bribery is not the term to use here. Most legislators who take advantage of the offer afforded to them by the UA are going to the events to enjoy the games and take in the atmosphere. They would be attending games whether or not tickets were free. Free tickets give even those who aren’t self-identified sports fans the opportunity to communicate with their constituents.

    Despite what many would argue, what it all boils down to is that sports just don’t matter that much. Of all the decisions that legislators have to make, I don’t think college sports can have a huge influence on any of it.

    Legislators who feel strongly enough about an issue are going to make balanced, well-informed opinions about it regardless of whether they get free tickets to UA sports events. Similarly, corrupt officials can and will make skewed decisions based on numerous factors. The problem is not the threat of bribery, but rather having weak-minded people in office.

    Tickets are merely a kind gesture to welcome important community figures to check out some of what the school has to offer. It’s an opportunity to embrace the campus, community, and culture.

    So what if they’re enjoying a job perk that countless others would love to have? Let them have their fun.

    -Miki Jennings

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