This weekend, thousands of parents and alumni will descend on campus for Colonials Weekend. A smaller number of those individuals will attend a headline performance by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Having the creator of one of the most popular shows in television history come to perform will be a great source of entertainment for the GW community. Unfortunately, exorbitant ticket prices released to the public at the same time as the GW community have resulted in a celebration that excludes many of the people it purports to serve.
Tickets to the Seinfeld performance opened at $57, a $12 increase from the admission price to Jon Stewart’s Colonials Weekend performance last year. Within an hour of going on sale, however, prices jumped well above that figure. Tickets to Seinfeld have been the most expensive of any previous October act at the Smith Center – acts that have included comedians Stewart, Dana Carvey and Whoopi Goldberg.
While numerous members of the GW community would presumably be able to afford these prices, it is unreasonable for the University to charge such a high admission for an event that should be accessible to all visitors. Some parents and alumni are already spending a significant amount of money to make the trek to Foggy Bottom, and such prices may have discouraged many from attending the Colonials Weekend headlining event.
Furthermore, the University made tickets available to the general public at the same time that they were released to current and former GW students and their families. This act effectively eroded the status of the Seinfeld performance as an event unique to this University’s annual celebration. Instead, the performance will be a general entertainment event for the District.
If administrators wanted to create an event to bolster campus spirit – the apparent goal of Colonials Weekend – they should have given members of the GW community priority access to tickets and lowered prices. Otherwise, they should have chosen a less expensive act. There are plenty of campus performing groups who would be able to put on a great show for students, parents and alumni without pricing people out. Additionally, such performance groups would do more to bolster spirit than an outside entertainer.
Our University was able to book a famous performer who will no doubt generate much revenue from his performance, but Colonials Weekend was the wrong time to do it. Organizers could have easily held the event on another weekend, drawing large crowds and attracting outsiders to an event not under the banner of GW’s official celebration.
In planning future Colonials Weekend programming, administrators should consider the actual purpose of these three days as a celebration for the GW community. A more accessible performance with priority offering to Colonials would be of more benefit to the University during this time than a big-name entertainer with a high price tag.