Opinion: Charging for Parkfest tickets makes sense
For once, the Student Association does something right. The much-anticipated event features Gucci, Whethan, and Tinashe. Parkfest is an annual event that garners a lot of excitement from thousands of students, but there are also those who couldn’t care less. The event isn’t free to attend, but it is funded by SA through student activity fees. Some students argue the event should be free because they already pay the student activity fee that runs at $110 a semester for full-time students. Others who don’t have any interest in Parkfest may think that it’s unfair for them to pay for an event through student activity fees that they’re not going to attend. Having a limited number of tickets at a low price is the best way to reconcile this.
Selling a limited number of tickets is beneficial in two ways. One, it helps subsidize the cost of the event at the expense of students who go. Second, it acts as a mechanism that prevents overcrowding.
The tickets cost $10 for undergraduate students and $20 for guests. The webpage where tickets are available says that they “are limited to two per undergraduate University at Albany student & one guest ticket per undergraduate UAlbany student.”
In the past, it has been the case that not all students who want to go can. In 2016 tickets sold out in in three days. Students and guests who really want to see the event will have no reservations paying the ticket price. Parkfest costs a lot of money and it seems unfair to make all students pick up the tab even if they aren’t going. Ticket costs shift the burden on people who will go and enjoy Parkfest.
If the event was open to an unlimited number of people at cost it would be overcrowded. Think of space at Parkfest as a scarce resource. Not everybody who wants to go could without lowering the quality of the event. People who want to go would take time and make sure they buy their tickets right when they are released. Students who want to go but don’t care enough to rush to buy tickets have a higher likelihood of not being able to get them. Unfortunately, SA can’t make everyone totally satisfied, but having a limited number of tickets helps to maximize students’ happiness.
Some might argue that student activity fees shouldn’t be used for Parkfest because not every student cares about it and it’s very expensive. There are certainly cases when SA funds are used in less than responsible ways, like going to Mardi Gras. However, it’s hardly ever the case where spending money can benefit every student. For example, funding a student organization like Autism Speaks benefits members of the club and the many people they help. Not every student will see funds granted to Autism Speaks directly benefit them but having student activity fees are overall beneficial to the university.
We can argue about how best to allocate funds and if there are unfair discrepancies in how much certain clubs receive, but that is a different conversation. Having student activity fees creates a stronger campus community and gives students great opportunities. No one is forced to be a student at UAlbany, so if you disagree with the idea of student activity fees you can opt out by withdrawing from the university. As for Parkfest, it’s impossible to appeal to every student’s interests in the event. The current system of selling a limited number of tickets is the best approach SA can take.