Senior Ball is a tradition that many members of the graduating class have been looking forward to since they were freshmen. The event takes place at Union Station on the final night of Senior Week—one large celebration with family and classmates before the sun rises on graduation morning.
This year, one ticket costs $137.49, including fees.
This editorial board urges the Senior Class Committee and the university to provide greater subsidization for students and their families, taking into account how prohibitive the cost is for many. It is unfair of the Senior Class Committee to expect that this price would be acceptable for all students.
The Office of Financial Aid is giving one free ticket and one partially subsidized ticket to the 300 students who demonstrated the highest financial need. While we applaud the effort to help make tickets more affordable for some, we are frustrated that many students who will still have trouble affording tickets have been left out.
The price is an obstacle for so many students that there is currently a waitlist for discounted tickets, beyond the 300 already receiving financial aid. The distribution of these discounted tickets will depend on how much money the committee raises through donations, meaning that students on the waitlist don’t know how much of a discount they will get, if they’ll be able to get discounted tickets for their families, or even if they’ll get any assistance at all.
The $130 ticket is a 30 percent increase from last year’s price of $100, which was still unacceptably high. Despite objections from students, who urged the committee to make Senior Ball tickets more affordable, the price has increased. The Senior Class Committee told the Voice that the ticket price increase was caused by a change in management at Union Station which led to substantial increases in the price of venue rental, as well as food and beverage costs.
Hosting such a large-scale, elaborate event makes it hard to keep ticket costs down, and we understand that there are a limited number of venues in the area that can accommodate up to 6,000 people. However, once the Senior Class Committee has negotiated the pricing with the venue, they have a responsibility to fundraise in order to make up for the higher pricing. The planning committee has a full year to organize the event and therefore should have time to raise money to subsidize the ticket price before it is announced to students. It is unclear if any further work was done to make the ticket more affordable once the pricing of the venue was finalized.
Additionally, if the Senior Class Committee felt they were unable to raise enough money to reduce the ticket price, they should have announced the price earlier. By announcing the ticket cost only weeks from the Senior Ball date, the Senior Class Committee has blindsided students and their families. With more time, students could have made arrangements to make up the money, possibly adjusting travel plans for their family or reservations for the weekend of the Ball.
We are also concerned that the only lower-priced option is available for attendees aged 13 and under. Those from the ages of 14 to 20 will have to pay full price, despite the fact that one of the contributors to the high cost of tickets is an open bar. As most seniors bring their families, including their younger siblings, we believe the Senior Class Committee should make ticket prices lower for all guests under the age of 21.
The Senior Class Committee has offered a discount on hair blowouts in an attempt to reconcile the ticket price. They are also providing GUTS bus transportation to and from the event. But if you can’t afford the ticket, then what good is free transportation or a discounted hair stylist? Not only is the discounted hair styling tailored for people whose hair can be “blown out,” excluding a significant portion of the senior class, but it also does not address the issue of the prohibitive cost of the ticket itself.
This issue of affordability is not limited to Senior Ball. Many of Georgetown’s annual events have extremely high costs of attendance, such as the Diplomatic Ball and Corp Gala, although the proceeds from Corp Gala do go to charity. This continues to ostracize and exclude low-income students, which contradicts Georgetown’s values and is especially unacceptable for school-sponsored events.
If you are an undergraduate student who is also upset or frustrated about this high cost, we urge you to join your Senior Class Committee or voice your opinion to them in order to advocate for affordability in the future. Additionally, if you can afford to, there is an option to donate to the Senior Ball Assistance Fund to subsidize the cost of tickets for fellow students. The Senior Ball ticket pricing is only one example of unaffordability on campus, and we call for future planning committees, other students, and the administration to proactively seek out ways to make these types of events more inclusive and financially accessible.