Commencement marks the end of of the undergraduate careers of Princeton seniors and includes four days of events for the members of the graduating class and their families. This is a time for great celebration that is meant to be shared with friends and relatives; however, given the differing capacities of the events’ various venues, seniors are given limited numbers of tickets for invitees. The number of allotted tickets is the same for all seniors, and those who want more are not allowed to buy them. The Board believes that the University should create a formal system for commencement ticket redistribution.
The University currently distributes tickets for the four largest events. Every graduating senior receives three tickets for Baccalaureate, four for the Class Day ceremony, six for Prom and five for Commencement. This allowance of tickets is more than enough for some students, but not nearly enough for others. Students with smaller families or perhaps those whose families live abroad might not use all of their tickets, but some students with large families or many nearby relatives will not have enough for everybody. While this imbalance could be addressed by a market, the Board believes an alternative mechanism is preferable. Such a mechanism should honor the University’s ban on ticket sales because a market policy would unfairly preference wealthier students. A market system would also create an inapproriate monetary incentive to not bring guests to commencement.
Still, the absence of a formal redistribution system means that some people have extra tickets and some people want more tickets. It is possible to plead with other students in order to find unused tickets, and friends certainly help each other when someone needs a ticket or has a leftover. Nonetheless, a student’s ability to bring additional guests to commencement should not be entirely determined by the size of his or her social network; the size of a student’s social network is as arbitrary as his or her wealth. As good as friendship and word-of-mouth are, a central system through which students could submit their extra tickets and apply for additional tickets would be far more equitable.
We propose a modest buyback system that would allow the University to redistribute extra tickets. Under such a system, students with unused tickets could give them back to the University in return for a $10 credit. The small amount would encourage people to submit their extra tickets, but the fixed price would not force students to choose between bringing an additional guest and making a large profit. This buyback would help the University gain possession of the surplus; therefore, it could re-distribute additional tickets to students who apply for them. Through a lottery, students could indicate the number of additional tickets they want and would receive additional tickets. Such a system would not destroy the private exchange between friends; rather, it would provide a more efficient process for the allocation of extra tickets.
By instituting a buyback mechanism and a lottery process for interested students, this formal system of commencement ticket redistribution would best accommodate the guests of as many students as possible. Students only graduate from Princeton once, and the opportunity for family and friends to recognize this milestone is extremely valuable. The Board believes that, by implementing this system, the University would more efficiently and fairly grant this chance to as graduates many as possible.
Daphna Le Gall ’15 and Jillian Wilkowski ’15 abstained from the writing of this editorial.
The Editorial Board is an independent body and decides its opinions separately from the regular staff and editors of The Daily Princetonian. The Board answers only to its Chair, the Opinion Editor and the Editor-In-Chief.