ANN ARBOR — Bobby Dishell is asking students at the University of Michigan to offer feedback to the athletic department about their experiences at football games.
As Michigan’s Central Student Government president, Dishell also is asking for the athletic department to give fair consideration to the candidate base as a whole.
The athletic department is accepting applications through its Web site, MGoBlue.com, until Friday for the Michigan Football Student Advisory Council, a 20-member committee of student season-ticket holders who will represent UM’s student section. The athletic department states on the site that the goal of the committee is to provide feedback on student section policies and provide suggestions for continued improvements this season.
“The student relationship is paramount,” said Hunter Lochmann, Michigan’s chief marketing officer for athletics. “I’m happy that we’ve gone in this direction with the CSG, and it’s incredibly important to have those relationships. We want more student input. It’s one of the most important relationships, and it’s the lifeblood of the programs.”
Dishell and CSG vice president Meagan Shokar will serve on the committee, yet Dishell has one hesitation. In a statement posted earlier this week on the Central Student Government’s Web site, csg.umich.edu, Dishell asked UM students to apply for the committee and expressed concern in the fact that the CSG will not be involved in the process of selecting the committee.
“While students are given more of a voice, it is the [athletic director] that is picking the students, not the students themselves,” Dishell wrote. “This means the AD could very easily pick a group of ‘yes men,’ take a policy to the group, and then say they consulted students on a policy change.”
Dishell emphasized accountability in the process of selecting the committee’s members and in providing multiple perspectives within the committee.
“We spoke with the athletic department, and we have some disagreements,” Dishell said. “I think this was done with good intentions, but there needs to be more accountability. All of the sudden, a problem starts to exist when you have people choosing which students represent them.”
But, Dishell added, “We still have a great working relationship with the athletic department. We want a vibrant, exciting situation, and we want to create that for everybody.”
Lochmann was concise when asked about the CSG’s statement.
“We appreciate them supporting the idea,” Lochmann said.
Lochmann reiterated that the goal of the committee — made up of four freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors, four seniors, and four graduate students, along with CSG representatives — is to have a diverse cross-section of student season-ticket holders.
Michigan’s athletic department organized the football committee in the wake of the response toward a general-admission policy for students that was instituted for the 2013 season — and was later reversed to reserved seating — and a decline in student season-ticket sales; Lochmann said that total has fallen from 20,000 student season ticketholders in 2013 to 12,000 this season.
“Right now, we’re in good shape with what we’ve put in place this year for tickets,” Lochmann said. “But look at the elements around the game. How do we get the student body and the football team closer? We want ideas to bring the football team and the program and everything that happens with the student body closer.”