Game Day Dollars are currently a requirement for all first- and second-year students with a meal plan. Only juniors and seniors can be game day dollar-free under some dining plans, which is whatever the exact opposite of “neat” is. Many people attend few athletic events. It’s not for lack of support — our students athletes are fantastic, personally and athletically. Rather, there are endless reasons that people do not go, from previous plans to lack of interest, lack of time or an excess of homework.
Similarly, people attend for a variety of reasons: to support their friends, to watch exciting events, for socialization or schoolwork or even, sometimes, to use their Game Day Dollars. Most important, though, is what Game Day Dollars buy: sugar, candy, soda, Gatorade, pretzels. Nothing that fills students up for long or promotes healthy eating. Mandatory Game Day Dollars don’t entice students to sit and watch a volleyball or soccer game. They promote the five-minute stop to use the money students have already bought before leaving again with friends.
The school does have more food available at games: occasionally pizza or hot dogs are offered to students for Game Day Dollars. Chick-fil-A and other, more substantial and interesting options are offered through vendors that do not accept Game Day Dollars. Students benefit little from a system that mandates spending but minimizes tangible benefits.
Not only do many students attend games just long enough to spend their TU-mandated money, but there are other incentives to attend athletic events that are oftentimes more useful than Game Day Dollars. Sweatpants, water bottles, shirts, scarfs and other free items are frequently given away to students. TU does not need to use a money system that can only be used at athletic events to prop up attendance when there are already so many other great reasons to watch on-campus sports. It’s insulting to the athletes who work hard to perfect their abilities, an insult to the coaches who help to shape them and the teams and individuals who make attending athletic events worthwhile.
The university would utilize student funds more efficiently if Dining Dollars subsumed Game Day Dollars. Students who want to attend games will. They do not need the pressure of a wasted $100 dollars per year to cheer on their peers. The money wasted because people did not want or forgot to spend their Game Day Dollars is reprehensible, considering that the money comes out of student pockets. College kids make enough jokes about only being able to afford ramen without the university demanding they throw more money at the school without a say in what it goes to.
If students could choose to spend their Dining Dollars at athletic events or the Allan Chapman Student Union, money could be spent where students can most enjoy it. If less money is spent at the track, stadium or arena, so be it. Students have the right to spend their money where they see fit, and support the kinds of food and drinks that they like best.