Lottery OSE and SGO SEPTA in transition
Opportunities for students to travel to Philadelphia for free are currently more limited than usual due to the absence of the SEPTA Lottery. The future of the lottery is uncertain – its original source of funding has run out and changes to the SEPTA system itself make it more difficult for the Office of Student Engagement to purchase tickets. Discussions are currently taking place between the OSE, the student government and the Student Budget Committee to determine where the funding will come from, who the lottery will be used for and the logistics of its implementation.
The SEPTA lottery was introduced in September 2017 by the Student Engagement Office. The goal of the OSE was to make Philadelphia more accessible to students by distributing independence passes to a limited number of students every two weeks.
The program differed from other initiatives designed to increase student access to the city, such as those offered by the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and SwatDeck, as the pass request did not necessarily have to be motivated by a precise reason; students could enter just for the sake of leaving campus.
Kat Capossela ’21, current president of SGO, explained the history of the lottery system and the importance of SGO providing additional tickets through a separate system in order to reach the low income population of Swarthmore.
“The [original, OSE] The SEPTA lottery, which was open to all students, was based on a grant of $ 15,000 that the [OSE] has received [from the President’s Office and the Dean of Students Office]. He was sending students to Philadelphia every week, but we found that he was not serving the low-income student population very well, and SGO identified them as most in need of tickets, ”she said.
Following this discovery, SGO decided to create a different lottery in which only low-income students could participate.
“So last year we got $ 20,000 for last year and this year to fund a low income lottery in addition to [OSE’s] SEPTA general lottery. The [low-income lottery] was funded by SBC and SGO but was implemented by OSE simply because SGO cannot see who is low income.
An article in the Daily Gazette indicated that starting in the fall of 2017, 80 SEPTA Independence Passes would be distributed to students every two weeks.
In the spring of 2018, the number of bi-weekly passes dropped to 95, according to a Phoenix article.
The number of tickets distributed by the OSE then more than doubled thanks to the additional funding provided by SGO. 105 additional passes were distributed specifically for low-income students under a separate lottery system.
The initial grant of $ 15,000 that the OSE received from the Office of the President and the Office of the Dean of Students has since been exhausted. This is part of the reason for the re-evaluation of the SEPTA lottery. Rachel Head, Associate Dean and Director of Student Engagement, explained how OSE is moving forward with the initial funding now gone.
“The initial funding for this pilot program was only for the first few years, and now that the pilot program is over, we need to review the program, its overall implementation and identify the next steps to take. The OSE is committed to providing additional funding to keep the lottery going at least until the fall semester, and we plan to launch the lottery program after the fall break, ”Head wrote in an email. at The Phoenix.
Although both OSE and SGO have committed to putting a SEPTA lottery back into service after the fall break, how it will be implemented and to whom it will be available is still uncertain.
According to Capossela, Andrew Barclay, director of student activities, is keen to secure funds from SGO and SBC to pursue a SEPTA lottery accessible to all students, regardless of their income, but Capossela has expressed concern that this will fit in with the priorities of SGO.
“OSE turns to SGO and SBC to finance the [lottery that is open to everyone] but we are already funding $ 20,000 for the low income initiative serving essentially the same purpose, probably an even better purpose. And so we have to have a conversation about whether we want to pay for [a lottery anyone can apply to]”said Capossela.
No concrete decision on whether the grant money will be used for tickets for the entire student body has yet been made. There is no indication when the decision will be made.
In addition to conversations about who the SEPTA Lottery will serve, conversations about the logistics of purchasing and distributing passes are taking place as a result of changes to SEPTA itself that are beyond the college’s control.
SEPTA is currently phasing out its use of paper tickets and passes, adding further complications to the OSE ticket purchasing process. Head also explained how SEPTA’s policy change further complicates the lottery
“An additional limitation to the lottery program is SEPTA integrating the ‘SEPTA key’ program (access card). With the introduction of the SEPTA key, the SEPTA online store no longer works, this is where we used to buy the passes in bulk (around 150-200 at a time). Unfortunately, we can no longer make these purchases. To address this issue, the college (along with many other local colleges and universities) is working in partnership with SEPTA to find better integration of our systems, ”Head wrote.
In the meantime, SGO and OSE still support the Arts in Philly program, which sends fifteen students to Philadelphia each month for art-related events, and student groups can purchase SGO-funded passes or the SBC. Head says the process just takes longer.
“OSE remains committed to supporting the SGO Arts in Philly initiative and we also continue to support student groups who need to purchase student government funded or SBC passes. Unfortunately, with the closing of the SEPTA store, this process is taking a little more attention to student groups now, as we have to physically purchase the passes instead of ordering them online, ”she said.
Either way, students can expect to see some kind of return of the SEPTA lottery after the fall break.