The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Spring Formal ticket scarcity and high cost detract from true meaning of the event

3 min read
postponed on photo

Class Council post announcing the postponement of spring formal.


Staff Writer

Spring Formal is supposed to be an inclusive event that brings the campus community together to celebrate the school year coming to an end. However, a low number of tickets and an increase in ticket prices have prevented that from happening this year. 

Every year, Class Council plans the Spring Formal dance in secret with a mystery location. According to UMW’s webpage about campus traditions, it’s often referred to as “one of the grandest events of the year.” 

However, the same cannot be said for this year’s formal, which is set to take place on April 15, having previously been postponed due to “venue contractual miscommunications,” according to a post on Class Council’s Instagram. To start, formal tickets have increased from $15 to $35 per person since last year when Spring Formal was located at University President Troy Paino’s house, Brompton. 

Though this year’s location will not be revealed until the night of, in order to justify the price more than doubling, the venue should be significantly nicer than Brompton. 

“If you have a large increase in prices, students are going to expect a larger venue and an event that they will actually be able to attend with their friends,” said freshman political science and philosophy: pre-law double major Tonia Attie. 

Class Council also limited the number of tickets they sold to 47 per day over a span of four days to reach a grand total of approximately 180 to 190 tickets, according to Class of 2023 SGA Senator Joe Johnson. The total number of tickets accounts for less than 5% of the student population at UMW. The scarcity of tickets led to students waiting in extremely long lines in the Cedric Rucker University Center to get their formal tickets, some even missing class to do so. There were students lining up almost two hours prior to sales, Johnson said.

This makes Spring Formal less of an all-inclusive celebration and more akin to an exclusive gala only accessible to those who can afford to spend $35 and wait in long lines to attend. 

“It isn’t right because it divides the student body between those who can afford it vs those who can’t afford it,” said sophomore psychology major Olivia Mallory.

Attie said, “To improve the formal process, UMW needs to ensure that we have a venue large enough to hold a larger amount of our student body. We are not a large campus, it should not be difficult to find an appropriate venue.” 

If Spring Formal is meant to be a way to unite students and embrace the fun traditions campus has to offer, ticket scarcity and price have proven to be obstacles to that. This begs the question, why are tickets more expensive this year, and why are there so few available? With a secret location that is still unknown, as well as the question of whether dinner will be provided at the event or not, it’s hard to justify spending $35 on an unknown, mere promise of a good time.

Judging by students’ opinions on Spring Formal and the hike in ticket prices, there seems to be a disconnect between traditions that the school claims to hold important and the actual commitment to maintaining them as important for the entire student body. 

“A very specific demographic of campus attends these events, which does not represent all of the demographics on campus,” said senior business administration major Molly Walsh.  

Some students weren’t even aware that Spring Formal was happening. Class Council hardly posted on social media in anticipation of the event, and there were few flyers put up. “It was never properly advertised, similar to other campus events,” Walsh said. 

Traditionally, Formal is meant to be an inclusive event between students, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Mallory said, “I would prefer to have a smaller budget and more people be able to attend.” 

There are several initiatives UMW could take to improve Spring Formal for years to come. Ensuring that a larger portion of the student body can attend by offering a greater number of tickets and making them more affordable would greatly improve the student experience of attending Spring Formal.