Most students have seen the free tuition posters plastered all over campus, but what's really the story there?

Western's Alumni Association is offering a prize of free tuition for a year to one lucky student attending the Homecoming football game this weekend. 

Executive director of alumni relations Trista Walker shed some light on the thinking behind offering such a large prize. 

"We really, as an alumni body, want to see students in the stadium," she said. "We want to see students enjoying the Homecoming traditions that have been so important to alumni through the years. We thought that to have a contest would be an exciting way to engage the current students."

The top prize is a year's worth of tuition (up to $8,000) financed by the Alumni Association's legacy fund. The fund is paid for mostly by corporate sponsors, primarily TD Insurance, Manulife and the MBNA credit card company. 

In addition to the top prize, the Alumni Association is also offering secondary prizes of $2,000 in Western meal plan dollars and a $1,000 gift card to the Book Store. 

Walker notes that the winner will be selected by a randomization software during the third quarter of the Mustangs football game on Saturday and will be announced before the fourth quarter. 

There aren't many stipulations on the prize, according to Walker. The winner must be a current Western student of course, and they must be in the stadium with a valid ticket to the football game at the time of announcement. 

When students enter the stadium, their student card will be authenticated and they will be placed on the list of all eligible entrants. 

Walker hopes that this giveaway will attract more students to TD Stadium on Saturday, since attendance at the Homecoming game has fallen in recent years. 

"When [alumni] do come back for Homecoming they want to see a vibrant campus, it's part of the nostalgia of reconnecting," she said. "Alumni love to see students at the game."

Walker also added that the plan to offer such an incentive was not related to the University's decision to move the date of Homecoming.

"We've been seeing a decline in students at the homecoming game for years now," she said.

The Alumni Association has already awarded a member of the class of 2014 $3,000 worth of travel, allowing him and his family to fly in from Mexico to attend Homecoming. 

Walker doesn't know whether or not ticket sales have improved from last year, but is hopeful that the free tuition offer will be enough to fill the stands on Saturday.

Charlie is a second year student in Media, Information and Technoculture, and is a first year sports editor for Volume 110 of the Gazette. Follow him on Twitter @charliejclarke or contact him at charlie@westerngazette.ca

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