Grad ball is a key end of year celebration students look forward to throughout their degree, however many have been taken aback by the price of this year’s event. Though most appreciate the time and effort that has gone into making this a memorable night, the fact is most students cannot justify, or do not have the funds for, such an expenditure.
One frustrating aspect is the unclear information given about the event so far. The price for a ticket is £49.50 with a purple card and without £59.50, or the early bird ticket (exclusive to purple card holders) for £44.50. This ticket includes admission only. In addition to this there is the price for transport, £10.50, plus any clothes, drinks or meals out. Added together, for anyone without a purple card, this leaves the night easily heading into the triple figures, a sum the average student just does not have lying around. A price break down has now been given, but for the purple card discounted price only, therefore the reason for the full price is still unclear. Add to this the price of robes for graduation, and other expenditures at the end of the year, it seems safe to say that turn out at this year’s grad ball will be a lot lower than previous.
LUSU should be obliged to put students first, and therefore ought to provide a cheaper grad ball alternative. We have the resource of the Great Hall or marquees, and the square manages to hold far more for Campus Fest which is given to students for free. Though a little less glamorous, for those that cannot afford to attend, a simple extra event like this would make all the difference to their end of year celebrations. On top of this, our student union has access to a wide range of talent within the student body that they are not taking advantage of. There a student bands, DJs and other acts who would be happy to entertain us for a far cheaper price, or simply a free ticket. As well as saving money, this would make it a more student-centred celebration where we could appreciate the talent within our year.
On top of this, the fact that students have to pay in person rather than online shows a lack of forethought by the LUSU staff. Though it may be hard to organise the selling of tickets online, this has been managed previously for events such as Extrav. At this time most third year students are focused on coursework and revision and will find it hard to spend most of the day queuing in Alexandra Square (though this year that queue may be a little shorter). All this, coupled with the secrecy of where our money is going, has left many students feeling LUSU is taking advantage of the excitement surrounding grad ball.
Given the venue and the acts the price is sure to be high, but this does not change the fact that, as good value as it may be, most of the student body simply cannot afford it. Like many others I will be banking my attendance on my purple card and hopefully an early bird ticket. However, even if I can attend I will be celebrating the end of my degree without close friends who are what make the celebration special. This feels like a failure on behalf of my union, one of whose main job is meant to be ensuring we can all celebrate at the end of the year.
With two months to go till the end of the year, and a wealth of talent within the student body, it is plausible for an alternative celebration to be a success. The key aim of the student union should be making sure everyone can attend if they wish to, not just if they can afford to. This could either be by an alternative option for those who are happy to miss out on extras for the chance to still attend a celebration, or LUSU lowering the price of the current grad ball.
LUSU, prove that students are your first concern and put your hard work to good use. Give us a grad ball to remember, mainly because we can afford to attend it.
By Katie Smith
[Image Credit: DaveBleasdale]