SG senators question Founder’s Day ticketing
Senate voted no on a directive to investigate claims of an over-distribution of tickets, yet questions remain
Student Government senators are trying to investigate the Founder’s Day Ball ticket system, after a problem was discovered with the over distribution of tickets.
The problem was that somehow, alumni and students who should not have obtained tickets were able to attend the event, according to SG Chief of Staff Josh Gutmaker.
Student Government Vice President Samantha Vervaeke, who was one of the planners of the ball, said at last week’s senate meeting that the event was budgeted for 2,000 ticket holders, and yet 2,040 tickets were checked in.
The senate voted 8-9 on Feb. 19 against a directive that would have opened an investigation into whether SG provided an “equal opportunity” for all undergraduates to receive a ticket to the Founder’s Day Ball, according to the directive. Gutmaker said SG found reason to believe that that some students and alumni bypassed the public Eventbrite ticketing process and received tickets that were reserved for VIP guests for the event.
How did this happen?
Vice President of the Committee or Responsible Advocacy and leader of the directive, Sen. Haley Sheehan said that this investigation is “not about placing blame on someone.”
“It’s more about the system,” Sheehan said during senate. “Honestly, looking into it, will help us find out what the holes are so that next year we can maximize efficiency.”
This was the first year that the director of Founder’s Day, senior Martin Valderruten, oversaw ticketing of the event, Vervaeke said. In previous years, the office of Student Activities oversaw ticketing. Now, after this year, ticketing will be handled once again by Student Activities, Vervaeke said. Valderruten declined to comment or provide information for this story.
“The presentation [by Sam Vervaeke] showed 2,040 tickets were given out. But that’s only 80 percent of the total in attendance,” Sen. Jonah Wolff said during the senate meeting last week. “Two thousand forty is 102 percent of 2,000. Which means that there are a number of tickets that were not counted in those numbers. And I think that is the purpose [of the directive].”
SG paid the Newseum for 2,000 tickets, Vervaeke told the Senate on Feb. 19. She said the 2,000 tickets were then evenly distributed throughout the student body, with 500 tickets available to each class. The tickets were distributed over five days, with 100 tickets available per day per class. Despite this distribution, 40 extra tickets were checked in on the night of the event, Vervaeke said during the meeting.
Students that did not initially receive tickets from the main distribution were put on a waitlist. Vervaeke said that because there wasn’t movement on the large waitlist, SG decided during Founder’s Week to preemptively give the first 150 students on the waitlist tickets to the event, with the anticipation of some no-shows the night of the ball.
In addition to the main ticket distribution, there was also a VIP list, which included 132 people who were guaranteed tickets outside of the original 2,000 that were distributed to students, according to Vervaeke. Vervaeke and SG President Devontae Torriente confirmed that the list consisted of President Kerwin, a few of his cabinet members and personal guests, distinguished alumni, former Founder’s Day presidents, volunteers and Student Government executives.
Vervaeke said the intention of the VIP list was that it would be made up of volunteers, university staff and alumni invited by Alumni Relations or an administrator. She said there was nothing “VIP” or special about these tickets, rather than just the given name for the ticket group.
Since the directive failed, senators have been working on bringing up this issue in alternative ways. Senator Felipe Herrera is looking at making a policy proposal with other senators to bring this issue up again.
The directive had asked the vice president and Founder’s Day director to release “any and all insightful and relevant documents regarding who received tickets, how they received the tickets, when they received the tickets, and under what classification the tickets were warranted.”
“Right now we’re working on, since the directive has been shut down, to send a letter to the VP and director requesting these documents and if they refuse, we’ll bring it back up in the Senate,” Herrera said.
SG Chief of Staff Josh Gutmaker said this investigation was not meant to be malicious, or a “witch hunt,” but only to create a better practice for next year’s Founder’s Day.
Sheehan said additionally that she hoped the possible directive would enforce Student Activities to take complete control of ticketing next year. Vervaeke said that next year Student Activities would be in charge of ticketing because of this problem.
Sheehan and Sen. Jessica Mayes, “were just trying to see what happened and prevent it from happening in the future,” Gutmaker said.