Students clamoring for tickets to Grasshopper Night, the annual student talent show, camped in George Washington Hall during “pre-show” distributions last week and even considered paying for the free tickets in the days leading up to the shows. Erin Strong, Instructor and Chair in Theatre and Dance, alerted the Dean of Students Office after hearing students waiting in line for tickets discuss selling extra tickets for profit. Strong said, “I heard whispers of [selling tickets] among the big crowds waiting for tickets [but] nothing really specific. I don’t even know if it was true… but it raised some concern.” In an email to students about the issue, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, reminded students that it is “highly inappropriate for someone to buy or sell tickets to [Grasshopper Night].” Though the Dean of Students Office had not heard of any specific cases of students selling their tickets, Murphy said, “I think we needed to set the record straight that selling tickets is not okay.” Murphy continued, “[Tickets] are offered by the Theater Department for free, to all students. It shouldn’t matter how much you should pay for tickets. It just feels inappropriate to use money to get an advantage on something that’s clearly designed to be for everybody.” “[The Department of Theatre and Dance] does specific fundraising during the show, so it seems a little inappropriate that anyone else should profit from anything that’s clearly not for profit,” Murphy added. Tickets for the four shows, two on Friday and Saturday evening respectively, were distributed to the student body on a first-come, first-serve basis. According to Amy Martin, Administrative Assistance in Theater and Dance, there were 330 tickets available for each of the four shows. The Department of Theater and Dance first gave tickets to students participating in Grasshopper Night. This year, the 68 student performers received three tickets each, which means that at most 204 tickets were set aside for the cast. On Sunday, the remaining 1116 tickets were then available to Seniors who showed up for the special Senior-only distribution period, an hour before ticket lines were opened to the rest of the student body. Strong then divided the remaining tickets for each showing in half, setting aside each for the Sunday afternoon and Monday evening distribution times, which were open to all students. Strong said the distribution times were chosen with students’ availability in mind. She said, “[We chose] Sundays thinking that most people are free then. There aren’t any sports games, and there are very few club meetings. Monday nights as well, starting at 5:45, there’s very little conflict. I know some people do have conflicts, but they were personal. I can’t work around everyone’s personal schedule, but I did try to work within the school’s schedule.” Waiting lists that opened 50 minutes prior to each performance gave students without tickets the opportunity to see the show. Since tickets correspond with seats, they do not account for available standing room in Tang Theater. “That’s why we’re able to take in so many people off the wait list. We can fit many more people in Tang [Theater] and still be within fire code,” explained Strong. “We don’t hand out tickets for standing room because we want to guarantee a seat [per ticket].” Parties on the wait list were admitted ten minutes before show time or after everyone who had a ticket has been arrived. In the past two years, everyone on the wait list for three out of the four shows were able to gain admittance, according to Strong. Strong said, “The early show on Friday last year, for some reason, was too popular. It varies from year to year what that one show is [but] it’s normally either the early show Friday or the early show Saturday with a wait list that is just unbelievably long.” The department does not distribute tickets to faculty and staff members, though they are invited to watch the dress rehearsal on Thursday or wait in the wait- list line. According to Strong, the Department had discussed hosting more shows to reduce demand for tickets but reasoned that students may be off campus with their families during other potential show times. A Sunday matinee showing of Grasshopper Night would conflict with other musical performances held that day. “Doing four shows is a lot. We really can’t ask more of the performers,” said Strong. This year marked the second consecutive year of the manual ticket distribution system. Other methods of distribution tried in the past have included a lottery system and an online lottery system, according to Strong. In the lottery system, tickets were placed in the mailboxes of winning students. However, the department ran into complaints of missing or stolen tickets. “There was a theft problem with tickets, rather than any selling [of tickets],” Strong said. “It’s amazing the lengths students will go to [to get tickets], which is somewhat of a shame, because it is really meant to be a positive show. It makes us feel good that we’re so popular, but it’s disheartening that [students] would stoop to certain levels.” Malin Adams ’09, former President of Student Council, came up with the idea for the online lottery system, which was implemented by students. Strong said, “The online system had its pros and cons. Sometimes it would shut down if too many people [accessed] it at once.” After the students responsible for the online system graduated, no students stepped up to continue the project, so the department brought back its manual distribution system. She said, “By handing out tickets, face-to-face, into students’ hands, we know that they’ve gotten them, and [distribution] is on a first-come, first-serve basis, open to everyone.” Strong considered talking with the Department of Theater and Dance about increasing the three ticket limit per student. “It would mean less students would be able to get tickets, but at least maybe then the whole family can get in [to the show],” said Strong. “More and more families are bringing siblings [to Parents’ Weekend] and some families do have stepparents.”
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