By Allura Morneau, Staff Reporter
On the evening of September 7th, students from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) got in line as early as 6 p.m. to buy tickets for a trip to New York City to see either “Wicked” or “The Lion King” on Broadway. The trip was planned and organized by UMF’s Center for Student Involvement (CSI). Tickets were officially planned to be sold at 6 a.m. the following morning, students were let in and allowed to purchase tickets prematurely due to complaints about the cold weather.
Many students were disappointed by this breach of protocol. UMF junior, Svea Ashe, arrived at the student center ready to brave the cold and stay out all night for her ticket. “People started lining up at 6 p.m., I got there at 12 a.m. in the morning prepared to stay outside, and it was sold out,” said Ashe.
Melissa Brady, a UMF sophomore, was lucky enough to get a ticket for the New York trip, and got to see “Wicked.” Brady explains that with many students waiting for tickets things got confusing. “There were so many people. There would be people in line, and people in bunches, then people in line again. There wasn’t one straight line,” said Brady. “It was definitely chaotic.”
Allowing students to camp-out overnight is a safety concern and poses problems for commuter students, particularly non-traditional students with children. It also causes trouble for those who cannot camp out due to scheduling conflicts or special health needs.
Maya Kasper, CSI Assistant Director, stated that she is more than willing to work with students to make the ticket buying process go smoother. “If there are some students who have suggestions for doing it differently, they could come and see me and we can talk about it…,” said Kasper, “[but] we’ve explored other options like selling them online so there’s no lines…and they’ve said no.”
There have been many suggestions from the student body for alternative ticket ordering systems such as, a lottery-style distribution of tickets randomly given to those who sign up or indicate that they are interested in the trip. “What would be fair is random selection with priority given to upperclassmen and people who had never gone. What’s not fair is giving priority to people who can afford or are able to camp out all night,” said junior Chana Schroff.
Kasper responded to the lottery idea saying, “I’ve brought that up with students because that is an option, and students have said no because then they can’t go with their friends. The lottery is the same issue with going online.”
In defense of the current system, Kasper mentioned the advantage of “proxying” tickets, which is when one has a friend stand in line for them to buy their ticket. “As for commuter students, we have set aside tickets just for commuter students. That’s also why we allow for ‘proxy,’ so if you are a commuter student and for students whose schedule won’t allow it,” said Kasper.
According to Kasper, her staff has tried everything in its power to reduce the chaos created by ticket sales and students camping-out to get them. “I have tried to control it in the past. I have tried to say, ‘you can only line up at a certain time,’ and students lined up anyway or have stood in the area and run to the area. The sidewalk is public property, so we can’t make them leave,” said Kasper. “We have been trying for 3 years to find the best solution…”