To participate in last Friday night’s most prominent on-campus activity, a student needed all of the following: blankets, toothbrush, CDs, textbooks, several tolerable companions, food, drink, patience, copious self-restraint, the competitive spirit necessary to eventually possess one of 1,000 tickets that sold out by Saturday morning and, most importantly, plenty of time.
For students who camped out in the Leavey Center last weekend to obtain Diplomatic Ball tickets, the idea that “there has to be a better way to do this” must have popped into mind on more than one occasion during the ten, fourteen or eighteen hours they spent queuing behind the Leavey Information Desk. This is not to say that this year’s ticket distribution process went horribly awry. Overall, it was significantly calmer and better organized than some of those in recent history. Acquiring tickets for Dip Ball 1999 resulted in much ill-will and many suppressed confrontations when the line for tickets was moved from the Leavey Information Desk to the Esplanade, without any system to maintain students’ previous place in line.
Despite the lack of line migration this year, problems still ensued. The line was supposed to be “frozen” at 8:45 a.m. when numbers were handed out. Students were then allowed to purchase tickets in the order of the distributed numbers. The problem with the line being frozen at 8:45, however, was that students had the opportunity to join their more dedicated friends who had spent the night in line. The parasitic-at-heart tended to leach onto their friends hours after a line far behind them had been established.
Other methods of selling tickets that center around queue-formation are possible, but are ultimately flawed. Numbers passed out at an earlier time would only push back the time when people start waiting, and would still allow for line-jumping. The same problems flow from wrist-band distribution or numbers being passed out as people arrive at the Leavey Information Desk (in that students would start queuing hours before the designated arrival of the number distributor or, alternatively, would madly scramble and shove their way to the desk at the most opportune moment). Unless the Dip Ball committee strictly polices the line for the entirety of the night or crams people into a narrow rubber tube from which there is no escape, they will continue to face the pitfalls inherent in the nature of the queue.
The only solution is to abolish the system of lining up before number distribution and subsequent ticket sales altogether. The best way to allot the 1,000 tickets that the committee sells to students is via a lottery system that gives preference to seniors?similar to the housing lottery. The lottery could be handled electronically with interested seniors logging onto a Dip Ball web site and requesting two tickets apiece. Any remaining tickets would be made available to first-years, sophomores and juniors.
Yes, the lottery system takes away a bit of the anxious excitement that the current system forces upon those who are so sure of the importance of one school dance that they are willing to slumber in a public venue for the possible privilege of paying $45 for a piece of paper. The lottery, however, does make for better time management, a very decent chance of acquiring tickets at least once in a student’s four undergraduate years and less yearning to throw irksome line-jumpers through the window of Uncommon Grounds.