Last November, as ticket sales launched for the annual Mermaids Christmas Ball at Kinkell Byre, St Andrews student Harriet Watts Williamson launched a petition calling upon the University of St Andrews Students’ Association to establish a re-sale site or app to ensure that tickets for events are not resold above their original price. The petition was launched after tickets for Christmas Ball were re-sold at more than £200, an inflation of more than 400 per cent of their original value.
While Mermaids made a statement that they did not condone reselling tickets at increased prices, and the Students’ Association said they wanted to ensure committees allowed an equal opportunity to attend events, nothing was done at the time or thereafter to prevent this from happening again.
It’s no secret that some students often use ticket resales to make a profit, especially when class pages are flooded with posts begging for a wristband to a sold-out event, particularly thosefor which the tickets sell out in minutes, like the aforementioned Christmas Ball as well as Welly Ball, coming up this November. Whenever a popular event sells out, some ticket holders flock to Facebook stating they will sell their wristband to the “highest bidder,” while others take a more explicit approach by stating they will sell off their ticket at a set price, often much higher than its original face value.
In fact, the problem has become so severe that many students feel lucky to buy a resold ticket at face value, or consider themselves a good person to resell at original price when they see ticket re-sales are in high demand. I have seen first-hand the outrageous amount of money people are willing to spend on events when they sell out, ranging from balls at Kinkell Byre to a simple night out at the Union.When selling my ticket for the Union’s all-building Halloween event last year, I offered it at face value to the first person who messaged me, not seeing any merit in making a profit from reselling, especially when the event only cost me a few pounds.
However, shortly after securing a time to meet up with said buyer, another keen student messaged me begging I sell to them instead, offering to pay me £40 for the wristband when I had already guaranteed to meet with someone else in a few short minutes and ask for just face value, which was around £7. What struck me most was the response that the confirmed buyer had to the situation: while I was simply expressing to them how crazy it was that someone would offer to pay 500% more than face value for a night out in 601, the buyer thanked me for selling to them and even chipped in a few extra pounds, stating that he was short on money and £10 was all he could offer me.
Money struggles and FOMO (the fear of missing out) are two staple issues that most University students face, and they also share in being two major consequences of not having an authorised platform for ticket reselling. Especially in first year, when students work to balance coursework with their social life in order to make friends and properly enjoy University, it can feel isolating to miss out on a large event that “everyone else” is attending, and being essentially discriminated against for not being able to afford a 400 per cent markup on ticket resales can be even more damaging to a student insecure about their financial situation at university.
However, while most societies have agreed that they disapprove of ticket inflation for their events, no one seems to be doing anything to stop this. Though St Andrews is not as large as other universities, we have a wide array of frequent events and a large body of societies affiliated with the Students’ Association, meaning there are enough society presidents that, in unity, could make a substantial difference to the current state of ticket resales.
If such an app or website as Ms Williamson alluded to in her 2018 petition was created, students would be forced to resell their tickets at face value on that centralised platform, and those caught doing otherwise could face reprimand from the Students’ Association. To protect the events culture of St Andrews and ensure it creates a community among our student body, rather than isolating those who can’t afford to pay more than a ticket’s face value to attend, societies should come together and finally create a reasonable solution to this community issue. After all, it is in the best interest of all their event attendees and secures a more positive community.