If you have ever walked into Frist Campus Center to find a long line running around several corners, it’s probably a line for the ticket office. The office provides tickets for various campus events and performances, but it does not do so without flaws. The ticket office wastes an unacceptable amount of students’ time. Last semester, I arrived at Frist two hours before ticket sales went live for a Mathey College Broadway trip, and I wasn’t even among the first people in line. The inconvenience and unnecessary time consumption of buying tickets could easily be avoided through online ticket sales.
Frist currently offers some ticket sales online or by telephone, but the website does not provide a comprehensive list of events. For some ODUS events, such as Office of Alumni Affairs events or residential college trips, University ticketing requires students to bear the lines at the ticket office. For several other events — like dance shows, sporting events, and plays — tickets can be purchased online.
To compound the problem of long lines, many events begin their sales at either 11 a.m. or 12 p.m., when students are generally in class. This poses a problem for students in class who want to attend events with limited capacity. For instance, in my first semester at Princeton, I was able to see a couple of Broadway plays through Mathey College because my Tuesday mornings happened to be free, but this semester my schedule does not allow me to wait in line and purchase tickets. This restriction is clearly unfair, and if tickets were sold online, this issue would be entirely avoided.
If we look at almost every major event or performance throughout the world, tickets are sold online. If I wanted to see an Ed Sheeran concert or attend a Miami Heat game, I’d purchase my ticket online and show up at the venue with either a printed or electronic copy of the ticket. Similarly, if I wanted to book a flight or reserve a hotel room, I’d do so by means of the internet. There is no logical reason why this cannot be implemented for every University event.
Some may argue that selling tickets in person gives priority to students who really want to attend an event or performance. If a student isn’t willing to get to the ticket office early and wait in line, then they must not really care about the event. But this is entirely false. For many students, while a campus event may be interesting, a much greater priority is placed on academic studies. These students may not be willing to skip class to purchase a ticket. But those same students may be willing to spend two minutes to purchase a ticket online, something which, while not ideal, can still be done in class. We should not reward students for being committed enough to line up if all this really reflects is their coincidentally free academic schedule or their willingness to skip class.
I happen to be one of the many students for whom academic studies are a priority. Because I was unwilling to skip class, I have missed out on many interesting events. But it doesn’t have to be this way. For instance, to attend a Stephen King reading last semester, students were required to secure tickets by telephone, starting at 10 a.m. Because of my coinciding 10 a.m. Spanish class and the limited number of people on the other side of the line working the ticket office, I was unable to secure a ticket despite several days of trying.
I urge those in charge of University ticketing to consider making all events accessible to all students through a comprehensive online ticketing platform. This will eliminate extended waiting periods and will give students the opportunity to purchase tickets to any event or performance, regardless of their scheduling demands.
Jared Shulkin is a freshman from Weston, Fla. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.