Students complain they were shut out of Dalai Lama speech

Some students said they were upset they were shut out of next month’s lecture by the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, after they waited in line for tickets Monday.

The Dalai Lama will speak as part of GW’s “Democratic Invention” lecture series at Lisner Auditorium Nov. 10. The event is co-sponsored by the National Endowment for Democracy. The International Campaign for Tibet, National Endowment for Democracy and GW each received a third of the tickets.

Many students said they were upset they were not told the chances of receiving tickets was unlikely, given the large number of people who want to attend the event.

The TicketMaster on the Marvin Center’s first floor does not officially open until 10 a.m., but many people were in line as early as 5 a.m. Most of the 350 tickets doled out were given to people who were in line early in the morning, said Jim Hess, director of University Special Events.

Several students who waited in line said no consistent plans were made to accommodate the large demand for tickets. Students who arrived early were placed on a list and allowed to return later, but others were not informed a list was made and waited for hours. Before tickets were to go on sale, students on the list were ushered past those waiting in line, some of whom had been there since 8 a.m.

Candace Coen, who arrived shortly after 8 a.m., said people waiting in line were not told a list already had been generated and were surprised when people who had just shown up were given tickets. She said after everyone on the first list of names was given tickets, approximately 15 people who had been standing in the front of the line were given tickets.

Coen said she created a list of people who waited on line but didn’t get tickets and had approximately 200 people sign the list.

Many students said they waited in line for as long as two hours until someone from the University informed them they would not get tickets.

“There was no communication between the box office and the students at all,” said Angela De Siata, a freshman who got in line at 9 a.m. “It would have been very simple.”

Several students who gathered outside the Marvin Center said no announcement was made when TicketMaster ran out of student tickets for the event. Instead, people in line heard the tickets were gone when students at the front of the line began leaving and telling those at the back that no tickets were left.

Hess said though he did not go to the Marvin Center until 10:30 a.m., he was informed later by TicketMaster employees that people who arrived early were allowed to place their names on a list. People on the list then could leave the line and later return to the Marvin Center to receive their tickets, he said.

TicketMaster representatives refused to comment.

GW students and faculty will get another chance to get tickets. Hess said 150 tickets will be given out this Monday at 10 a.m. Hess said he will work with the Marvin Center staff to develop a plan to handle the distribution process.

Because of the large demand for tickets, Hess said he will try to increase the number of seats available to the GW community.

“We want as much of the GW community to go as possible,” he said. He said at least 600 seats will be available for the GW community.

“That’s a bare minimum,” he said.

Hess said every seat in the auditorium will be filled the night of the speech, and he acknowledged many members of the GW community will not get a seat.

Hess said the GW television station will cover the speech and broadcast it in the Marvin Center Ballroom for people who could not get tickets.

The Dalai Lama spoke once before at Lisner Auditorium, appearing in 1995 at an event that was not officially sponsored by the University, Hess said.

-Emilia Kalloch contributed to this report

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