Throughout the Fall 2022 semester, Georgetown University has had the privilege of hearing from a number of important public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former President Bill Clinton (CAS ’68) and former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. These events are valuable opportunities to learn from national and global leaders, but often are unnecessarily difficult for students to access.
The most prominent barrier to events is the inefficient registration system. Attending an event can be a far more significant time commitment than just the event itself due to significant wait times to enter events. The Editorial Board urges the Georgetown administration to make speaker programming more accessible to students by creating an online ticketing system to ensure that students have a reserved seat for events.
Currently, students wait in lines that can wrap around Healy Hall, sometimes for hours, before being allowed to enter the venue for a speaker event — if there is space for them at all. This causes students to spend an unnecessary amount of time waiting in line to see these speakers, with some deciding to skip class to wait in line so that they can get in.
Saisha Dani (SFS ’25) said she skipped class in order to wait in line to listen to Hillary and Bill Clinton at the Madeleine Albright Symposium on Sept. 29, 2022.
“My friend and I stood in line for an hour and a half but did not get in because they closed the doors as we were six people away,” Dani told The Hoya. “We would definitely prefer a system where we could have reserved our seats in advance. I even saw people camping out with their food and study materials while waiting to enter.”
Other students said they have made the choice to skip classes, including Carina Daruwala (SFS ’25), who said she skipped her “Political and Social Thought” class in order to attend a speaker event as a result of the extensive lines.
“Last year for Hilary Clinton I had to skip ‘PST’ because I had to wait in the long line to ensure I could get in,” Daruwala told The Hoya.
For some students, the academic rigor of their schedules can make waiting in line impossible, even if they have the time to attend the event otherwise. Nadia Sandandan (NHS ’24) said she could not attend an event that interested her because of the rigor of her pre-med schedule.
“As a pre-med student, it has been difficult to attend certain events, like when the Clintons came, because I typically have busy afternoons due to science labs or research. For the same reason, it is also difficult for me to wait in line for an hour or longer for these events because they are typically in the late afternoon.”
The choice between attending classes or work and attending a speaker event that exists as a result of these lines is stressful and unnecessary. The Editorial Board proposes that Georgetown establish an online ticketing system for more efficient access to these opportunities. The ability to RSVP for an event and reserve a space on a first-come-first-serve basis would reduce student stress by making accessibility to these events more transparent. Under this system, attendees would not have to wait in line for hours prior to the event, giving them more time to devote to class or work.
According to a university spokesperson, the lack of an official online seat reservation system is a logistical choice on the part of the administration.
“Many organizers prefer to have a first-come, first-serve system. In the past, we’ve received feedback that advanced ticket ordering resulted in higher rates of attrition (no-shows and empty seats), created potential ticket access equity issues and limited students’ ability to attend events in groups,” the spokesperson wrote to The Hoya.
One solution to the issue of no-shows is that the ticketing platform could impose restrictions to future registration on users who fail to show up to events more than once in order to hold attendees accountable. This policy would disincentivize students from signing up for events they don’t attend. Students could also be offered the option to reserve multiple seats (with a reasonable maximum) in order to allow them to attend with friends, regulated by the same accountability system.
The Editorial Board calls on the administration to implement effective online ticketing systems to reduce the time constraints imposed by long waits to enter events. Speaker events offer students the opportunity to learn from industry and political experts. Georgetown’s proximity to the nation’s capital invites the attendance of particularly notable political speakers — an opportunity that students should be able to take advantage of more easily. With shorter lines, we can incorporate diverse worldviews for a more holistic education.