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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Spring Formal ticket sale process causes stressful frenzy

Spring Formal ticket sale process causes stressful frenzy


Staff Writer

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “school dance?” Maybe it’s repressed memories of middle school dances with uncomfortably bright lighting and teachers just a little too close within ear shot. Or maybe you’ve realized they can actually be a lot more fun than they used to be and you start getting excited to wine and dine, dance the night away with everyone dressed to the nines, and de-stress from those essays due next week.

Last week Class Council had tickets for sale from Wednesday, March 14 through Friday, March 16 for the University’s annual Spring Formal, but not everyone’s dreams of breaking loose on the dance floor will come April 6.

Students around campus quickly became frustrated with the ticket-selling process, as they had to wait in three hour long lines with no guarantee of being able to purchase their tickets.

Claire Marsala, a sophomore, had heard about Spring Formal through a Facebook ad last year, and decided she would go again after having such a fun time.

“The problem,” said Marsala, “is the ticket process is a disaster.”

Tickets were sold in stages across three days. Each day one hundred blue raffle tickets were handed out to the first hundred students in line, who could then exchange their raffle ticket for Spring Formal tickets they could then purchase with cash, check, or Eagle One. Anyone who was in line after the one hundred mark cutoff would have to come back and wait for their chance another day.

“There are only 300 tickets available for a school of nearly 5,000 students, besides those in class council who I believe get tickets set aside for them.” Claire explained, “You have to stand in line for hours just for the chance to get a ticket.”

Students would often get in line several hours before ticket sales were scheduled to begin, hoping they would have made it early enough to be one of the day’s lucky hundred to receive a blue ticket.

A classic Willy Wonka style ticket frenzy.

“I made my first attempt at getting tickets on Thursday” Claire retells. “I got in line at 3:30, and there was already a line of about 55 people in front of me. I waited until 4:30 [but] unfortunately, they ran out of tickets about 4 people in front of me. I decided to try again the next day. On Friday, I woke up early to get in line by 9:30 (ticket sales started at 12). When I got there, there were already about 10 people in front of me.”

Marsala’s experiences weren’t even the most extreme among her fellow students, stating that some students had gotten there around 8:30am or earlier. People started joking they should have stayed the night in the UC lobby so they would be there first.

“I sat in line until around 10:45 when my boyfriend took my place, so I could go to my 11:00 class. After my class, I ran back to the UC to get back in line, so he could go to his 12:00 class. By 12:15, I had two Spring Formal tickets in my hand, and I needed a nap,” said Marsala.

Tiffany Lower, a senior at Mary Washington who attended the Spring Formal her sophomore year decided to treat herself by attending the dance one last time before graduation. She, like many other students who went through the process, has her own possible solution to try and coral the chaotic ticket sales.

“I really liked the idea of handing out the blue tickets to signify when the line would cut off so people didn’t have to waste time standing in line if they couldn’t get one,” said Lower. “I would have a set start time when people could start standing in line. As in, tickets will be sold at 2 pm but students couldn’t start lining up until 1pm. This could be more fair to people who have classes in the morning and they wouldn’t have to skip them to just get a good spot in line.”

The fact that students, especially seniors like Lower who are hoping to make it to the Spring Formal for nostalgia’s sake before graduation, should have to wait in line so long they have to take shifts with their friends or significant others, possibly running through lunch or class time, is ridiculous.

“I think people are never satisfied no matter what happens,” said Lower. “I also think that maybe since the process wasn’t clear prior to the tickets being sold made some people upset.

While it’s understandable that such an elaborately planned (and surely costly) event needs to be limited for budget’s sake it seems that the Class Council needs to essentially lower the demand for these tickets. With a school of about 5,000 students, they either need to increase the numbers of people that can attend the event, increasing the likelihood of being able to buy a ticket in the first place, or limit, unfortunately, the event to certain class years to help more evenly control the number of people going through such a process, while still building a sense of excited interest in the hopes of attending the Spring Formal later in your college career, just like high schoolers anticipate attending prom for the first time.

Perhaps the issue could be solved with a secondary event.

“I think they should accommodate more students. I understand that part of the intrigue is the elitism, but it’s not really fair. If they want to have a formal that’s available to everyone, everyone should be able to go,” Marsala said. “Another solution I think would be to have another spring formal that’s on campus like fall formal. That way, if you’re not able to go to the fancy spring formal, at least you could go to that one.”

Clearly the process of something as seemingly simple as purchasing tickets for a school dance did not go as smoothly as, surely, the Class Council planned it to. Understandably students were not happy about it. Conducting such a large scale event each year inevitably brings new challenges with it, but here’s to hoping Class Council will have a new and improved process for Spring Formal ticket sales come this time next year.