Canceling Fall Fest, replacing with paid event limits students that can attend

Program Board announced last week that Fall Fest, which has taken place every year for the past 15 years, had been canceled. The organization replaced the event with a comedy show headlined by former correspondent on The Daily Show, Hasan Minhaj.

Prior to this decision, Program Board issued a referendum during the Student Association elections asking if students would prefer fewer events with higher-profile performers or more events with lower-profile performers. A majority of students voted in favor of Program Board prioritizing large events.

It’s encouraging to see that Program Board is willing to break tradition and change their events to mirror students’ feedback. However, while many students are excited for Minhaj this weekend, turning Fall Fest from something free and accessible to all students into a ticketed show creates a more exclusive event.

This change has inevitably created an environment where a select amount of students can enjoy the show compared to the whole student body.

In the past, all students have been able to attend Fall Fest and Spring Fling without taking any money out of their wallets. Students could expect to walk in to University Yard with just their GWorld cards and take advantage of the free pizza, drinks, tank tops and coupons to local businesses. This change has inevitably created an environment where a select amount of students can enjoy the show compared to the whole student body.

When Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, came to campus my freshman year during Colonials Weekend, I was able to secure a ticket before the event quickly sold out – but I know some students weren’t able to grab the highly sought after tickets or couldn’t afford the price tag, which ranged from $50 to $99 per ticket.

While the tickets for Minhaj’s show are only $5 or $10 per ticket, this sets a precedent to charge for studentwide events. It may not seem like much, but students who are tight on funds may opt to skip a large-scale event that they could have attended in a previous year. By moving away from an event that is available for all GWorld cardholders, students are inevitably left out.

Replacing Fall Fest with a ticketed comedy show is a step that Program Board should be cautious about. With future events, charging a ticket price limits who is able to attend and changes the event from a Universitywide experience that brings students together to something that can only be enjoyed by those who are able to pay the ticket price.

Renee Pineda, a senior majoring in political science, is The Hatchet’s opinions editor.

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