Student Association’s Winter Gala has been an eagerly anticipated event for UB students since the tradition began in 2001, but many students will be unable to attend this year after the 800 tickets to the event sold out within two days.
Students shared their frustration about the sold out event, citing conflicting work and class schedules as reasons for their inability to purchase tickets in time, while SA representatives –– who are able to reserve and purchase tickets at a discouned rate –– believe nothing can be done to improve the system.
The Gala, reminiscent of a high school prom and hosted at Samuel's Grande Manor on the Saturday after the last day of classes, invites hundreds of students to dress up in their best formal wear for a classy night of entertainment.
Tickets are sold for $30 at the SBI office on North Campus and at Harriman Hall on South Campus. Meals, transportation and an open bar are all included in the ticket price.
Last year’s Winter Gala hosted roughly 650 students, with a total cost of $46,000. This year’s projected costs are estimated at $60,000, providing additional seats to accommodate for growing student demand. SA events like Gala are funded by the Mandatory Student Activity Fee, a $104.75 semesterly fee for each student.
Graduating students seek to make Gala a part of their UB career. Gianna Razza, a senior mechanical and aerospace engineering and mathematics major, planned to attend Gala with her friends, but said tickets sold out too fast for her friends to purchase them.
“I want my friends there and I don’t think it’s fair,” Razza said. “I felt like they sold out so quickly that people could’ve had classes at that time where they couldn’t have gotten their tickets. If you want them to skip class to get a ticket, that’s not cool.”
SA President Leslie Veloz understands the frustration of students who couldn’t get tickets, but advises students to consider Gala’s popularity.
“We see [Gala] growing every year, which is a beautiful thing, but Gala really is a first come, first serve basis. We announce the release date as early as we can and we put systems in place to make sure as many students as possible can attend,” Veloz said.
Tickets are also reserved and sold at five dollars for SA members. From the budget allocated to the Gala, tickets for SA staff are subsidized. This practice is not uncommon in workplaces, according to Veloz.
“With us reserving tickets for the staff, it’s really not an unusual practice,” Veloz said. “It’s really to reward all of the people for all their hard work in putting [together] events like Gala. Gala used to be free and unlimited for E-board, we changed it so that we pay. We pay for an event that we hold. The discounted price is a way to reward us, but at the same time, makes it fair.”
Beatrice Song, a senior communication major, looked forward to attending the Gala in her last year at UB, but was discouraged by the length of the line at the ticket booth.
“I wasn’t trying to wait on a two-hour line for tickets,” Song said. “I’m mad. Tickets all sold out on the first day and that’s totally unfair because I was at work and I couldn’t get tickets anyways, even if I wanted to go wait on the line.”
Students were able to purchase unlimited amount of tickets in past years, causing unequal distribution among students. This year, SA only allowed each student to purchase three tickets to maximize the number of UB students who could attend.
Several students suggested SA should disperse tickets more efficiently instead of allowing tickets to sell out. Smaller batches of tickets sold throughout the week or online reservations similar to the Distinguished Speaker Series are alternative methods students would like to see.
Social media and a school-wide email notified students of ticket release dates, but many students were still unaware of Gala due to a lack of on-campus promotion.
Anissah Ide, a senior business major, said while she never heard of Gala, she empathises with graduating students who are unable to go.
“For graduating students, this might be the only opportunity to attend the event,” Ide said. “They should offer more tickets so that more UB students could attend an event that’s made for them.”
Students who previously attended Gala are aware of the limited tickets. SA treasurer Janet Austin believes the expectancy for Gala causes excitement for tickets.
“We print it through our social media, but people who have been to UB know about Gala,” Austin said. “Honestly, tickets sell out so fast that we barely promote it and people know already.”
Students have suggested a larger venue for the event, but Austin commented that changing the venue for Gala would result in higher ticket costs.
Wanly Chen is a staff writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org