Lining Up for a Fair Shot

The Book of Mormon is highly regarded as one of the
best musicals of our time, and tickets for this wonderful show are by no means
cheap. For low-income, musical-obsessed students like me, seeing this
show is like meeting the president. I wake up every morning to the soundtrack
for The Book of Mormon playing from my stereo; I watch YouTube video interviews
of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the musical’s composers, just so I
can learn more about what inspired their work; and I look for unique sonorities within the music that only a music theory nerd like myself could
find. (Fun fact: The introduction and verses of “I Believe” mimic the
chord progression, melody, and lyrical structure of “I Have
Confidence” from The Sound of Music.)

As you
might imagine, when I heard over winter break that ASPC offers subsidized
tickets to this musical for Pomona College students for only $15, I screamed
with joy and vowed to camp out to see the show. And now, as I write this
article, I find myself literally a few hundred feet away from the ASPC office
waiting in line for tickets. So why am I writing this? Well, let’s just say I’m
a little flustered.

As far as
I know (and apparently as far as everyone else in line knows), there are no
said rules for how campouts are officially meant to be conducted. Now, this
may just be from past experience camping out on Black Friday to buy one-time
deals, but it was my understanding that when you camp out for something, you
physically wait in line from the moment you enter the line to the moment you
buy your product. If you’ve ever camped out for a subsidized trip paid for by
ASPC, you know that this outside-the-bubble rule is not observed. Students here
have this belief that it’s OK to place your backpack, sleeping bag, and other
paraphernalia in line and that that act signifies to others that you have
reserved a spot in line.

For me and
the 20 or so people at the end of the line, this simply is not fair. Today,
students literally showed up at noon, placed their items against the wall, and went on with their days—going to classes, work, dining halls, and dorm rooms—and then came back any time between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.
under the assumption that their “spots” were still saved.

I’m a
patient fellow, and I can understand why these people would do this, so when I
showed up at 3:40 p.m., I dutifully walked to the end of line and placed my
backpack on the ground, only to be told that I was supposedly the 50th person in
line for a show with only 52 tickets. Or maybe I was the 48th? The
53rd? Without physical bodies in line, it was nearly impossible for us to
determine how many people were actually waiting. I looked at the so-called line
and counted roughly 35 people actually present. How is that a line? How is that
“camping out?”

The approximately 35 of us who showed up just as early
as those other students actually waited
in line the entire day. We missed classes, we had to find people to cover us
for work, we missed meals, and we studied out here so that we wouldn’t lose our
spot in line. As hours went by, students would show up with sleeping bags and
backpacks in hand. When I told them that I was supposedly the 50th
person in line, I’d see their faces as they realized that they wouldn’t be able
to buy tickets, and watch them walk
away. At least 15 people did this after I showed up.

As we
watched the sun go down, those of us in line slowly became more and
more frustrated. We eagerly awaited those students who placed their items down
to return so that we could explain how we felt that it wasn’t fair for them to
get their tickets before us.

When they finally did return, we explained why we were
upset, and they didn’t react too kindly. Some said that they weren’t aware of
such a rule. Some said that they couldn’t have gotten tickets any other way
since they had classes and other commitments. Some said that it was no big
deal, that it wouldn’t make any difference whether or not they took a place in

For me, No. 52 in line, they do make a difference. For me, who
didn’t go to work today, who had to miss an extracurricular commitment, who had
to read and work on homework in the uncomfortable cement structure of the SCC
while waiting in line, they do matter. To top it off, certain individuals had the
audacity to show up at 10 p.m., place their things down at some point in the
line, and go to sleep, assuming that they were entitled to a spot there.

For about
an hour now, students have been arguing in line about whether or not some of
the students who didn’t wait all day should be forced to the back of the line.
I understand where both sides of the argument are coming from, and I am of the
opinion that all this is silly. I write this not to say those students should
be forced to the back of the line, but to criticize the current campout system
at Pomona.

This isn’t
normally an issue for these events, which is why it hasn’t been thoroughly
discussed. When I camped out for the Lion King musical last semester, there
were no disputes about whether or not people should be forced to the back of
the line. The fact is that the Lion King musical and many other
ASPC-subsidized events aren’t as popular as The Book of Mormon. But, at times
like this, when, after waiting outside the ASPC office for more than eight hours, I find myself still wondering whether or not I’ll actually be able to buy a
ticket, I want cold, indifferent rules. 

I propose the following: Pomona should make it a rule that, if someone is going to camp out for an ASPC-subsidized event, that person can only save a spot in line for one other person, and one of those people has to be in line at all times. This would allow each person to eat meals, to use the restroom, and to go to their rooms if need be. If this rule is broken, then the students in line should be allowed to take that person’s (or those people’s) items and move them to the end of the line. If there is a dispute, then students should be able to refer to this rule and to contact a building manager if need be. 

As an alternative, ASPC could generate a lottery system for tickets by allowing students to enter into a raffle for a ticket and then randomly choosing winners. Not only would this ensure that people don’t have to camp out, but it would increase the possibility of selling all the tickets for a prospective event.

I hope that ASPC figures out something soon so that this time next year, No. 52 doesn’t share my predicament.

Daniel Gonzalez PO ’16 is from Montclair, Calif.

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