SORC

library building

What is the lottery?

The SORC coordinates the use of low-cost campus advertising services, including Diag boards, Diag banner poles, table tents, and the Michigan Union banner. There are over 1,000 eligible student organizations and dozens of university departments vying for the spaces, which are affordable and effective. Consequently, the reservation process is highly competitive and must be conducted systematically in order to be fair. If you have never participated in this lottery before, it can be overwhelming. Please read through this page carefully and call or email SORC if you have any questions.

SORC conducts a lottery at the beginning of each semester for reservation appointment times.SORC does not assign locations for Diag boards and Diag banner poles; rather, each group is assigned an appointment time at random. Earlier appointments have better selection of the "good" spaces. Spaces that remain open after appointments are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For the Michigan Union banner and table tents, there is no appointment. Groups will either win one of the available spaces, or not.

Dates change every semester, but the full details of the lottery are announced via e-mail about one month before the end of each semester. To get on SORC's mailing list so you will receive this announcement, click here. If you have not heard anything by mid-December (for winter lottery) or mid-August (for fall lottery), go to the main page of the SORC website for links to the applications and further details.

When does the lottery take place?

A lottery is conducted three times per year:

  • Fall reservation period
    • Diag Boards, Banners, Table Tents
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is mid-September through late January
      • Lottery application is open from May through early September.
      • Reservation appointments take place in mid-September
    • Bus Signs, Digital Ads, and Glass Showcases
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is mid-September through late January
      • Reservations open in early July
  • Winter reservation period
    • Diag Boards, Banners, Table Tents
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is late January through early May
      • Lottery application is open from early December through early January
      • Reservation appointments take place in mid-January
    • Bus Signs, Digital Ads, and Glass Showcases
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is late January through early May
      • Reservations open in early December
  • Spring-Summer reservation period
    • Diag Boards and Banners
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is early May through mid-September
      • Lottery application is open from late March through mid-April
      • Reservation appointments take place in late April (usually the study day after classes end)
      • Table Tents are not available from May through August
      • Deep discounts of 50-100% are applied to most advertising services in the summer months
    • Bus Signs, Digital Ads, and Glass Showcases
      • The period for which you can reserve advertising space is early May through mid-September
      • Reservations open in late April

Why is there a lottery?

From the 1970s until 1996, Diag board spaces were reserved on a first-come first-serve basis. Diag boards are effective and inexpensive, so they grew steadily in popularity. The last time it was first-come first-serve was 1996, and when the Manager left for work on a Monday night, several people were already waiting outside the Union with their sleeping bags to reserve spaces the next day. By morning, there were over 100 people in line. SORC staff tried to be as efficient as possible, but the people who were near the back of the line had to wait over five hours for completion of the reservations in front of them, and by then, many of the spaces were booked solid, and they got nothing.

We knew there had to be a better way. A lottery system was devised and launched in 1997. With some adjustments, that system remains in place today. Banner poles were added in 1998, and later table tents in 2006, and we eventually adopted the lottery system for the same reasons - too much demand; not enough supply.

We have conducted surveys periodically to see if our customers prefer to go back to the old way. Once they hear this story, there is inevitably an overwhelming preference to keep the lottery. We hope this explanation sheds some light on the subject for you. If you have comments on the lottery, please complete our online comment card.

What happens if there is a miscommunication in my group, and we don't submit our application on time?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to reserve Diag boards or Diag banner poles during the lottery appointments if you did not submit an application on time. Spaces that are left-over, or are not paid by the deadline, are available to reserve on a walk-in basis starting at the end of lottery week.

What happens if I miss my lottery appointment?

Spaces that are leftover, or are not paid by the deadline, are available to reserve on a walk-in basis starting at the end of lottery week.

What if my organization's president sends me to the 
appointment but I don't know what to reserve?

SORC clerks provide as much advice and guidance as possible, 
but unless you know some basic information, you will not be 
able to make a reservation. You will need to know:

  • the date of the event
  • how many spaces your group wants to reserve
  • how long your group wants to advertise 

This will largely be determined by budget.

Can I apply for the lottery now?

Fall lottery applications are open from approximately April 20 through early September. 

Winter lottery applications are open from approximately early December through early January.

Spring lottery applications are open from approximately mid-March through early April.