Between 300 and 400 students were left out in the cold during last Friday’s Welcome Back Weekend Concert, when the College Union Board (CUB)-sponsored event, which featured Long Island rock outfit Brand New and singer/songwriter Kevin Devine & The God Damn Band, sold out well before showtime.
While the 837 students who managed to get inside the Kendall Hall Auditorium have said nothing but good things about the highly anticipated rock concert, some who were unable to snag a seat said they are furious with the way the event was handled.
Jilted concert-goers complained about line-cutting and the lack of advance ticket sales, and wondered why a larger venue was not reserved for the show.
“The cops were stopping line-cutting, but only for the last 45 minutes before showtime,” Nicole Lyons, junior graphic design major, said. She was a few feet from the front of the line when the concert sold out.
Lyons said she got in line around 4:30 p.m. and was standing in front of the Social Sciences Building. But as more people snuck into the line, she was pushed closer and closer to the Brower Student Center.
Sophomore psychology major Melissa Zielinski described a similar situation.
“The line just kept getting wider and wider,” she said. “At least 30 people got between me and the person I was behind when I got in line.”
Even students who were able to get into the show were aggravated by the allegedly unchecked line-cutting.
Victor Tafro, senior computer engineering major, said he was the 12th person in line around 3:20 p.m. on Friday. He said by the time CUB opened the doors for the event, Tafro found himself behind almost 40 people.
“People were pulling people onto the line until almost 8 p.m.,” Tafro said. “CUB didn’t do their job.”
According to the office of Campus Police, CUB and the office of Conference Meeting Services (CMS) did not contract the police to work security for the outside of the event. Three officers were asked to work the actual concert.
“CMS said we were looking at only a 300-person turnout,” Sgt. Michael Bell said. “We noticed (line-cutting) would be a problem if it wasn’t addressed. People had been waiting out there for nearly two hours. I wasn’t just going to let anyone cut to the front.”
Bell said police took between 30 and 50 line cutters and moved them to the rear of the line.
According to Jessica Claar, assistant director of Student Activities, CUB has not found the need to police presence at their previous events.
“Historically, in the past CUB has not contracted police to serve as line monitors at Kendall events, as the need has not presented itself,” Claar said. “Previous general admission events where lines have formed have not elicited behavior in need of a police presence.”
CUB director Katerina Gkionis said her staff tried to combat the line-jumpers, but their efforts proved futile.
“We could not do anything about that,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “When we saw that the line was getting larger, we sent a group of CUB members outside telling everyone to form a smaller line, but they were ignored.”
Students were also surprised CUB did not sell tickets in advance, as they have in the past for similar big-name acts like Third Eye Blind and Saves the Day.
Gkionis said while it’s disappointing so many students were unable to attend Friday’s show, the “Welcome Back Weekend Concert” is booked the same way every year, regardless of which acts are playing.
“Traditionally, we haven’t had advance ticket sales for ‘Welcome Back Weekend’ shows because it is so early in the semester,” Gkionis said. “We have always sold at the door. It’s the beginning of the semester, so it would have been difficult to publicize a ticket-selling date and time to the entire campus on the second day of classes.”
Prior arrangements with Brand New’s agency also prevented CUB from selling tickets in advance.
She added that budget issues stymied efforts to reserve the Student Recreation Center, which housed last Spring’s heavily attended Third Eye Blind concert. This year’s Spring Concert, which will showcase Lupe Fiasco and hip hop icon Ludacris, will be held in the Rec. Center.
Gkionis said the Rec. Center would have cost $20,000 more and would have forced CUB to raise ticket prices.
Tickets were sold for $5 to College students.
When the concert reached full capacity, Gkionis said CUB staff did what they could to open up additional spaces for students who remained in line after the show sold out. According to the CUB director, several CUB staff members gave up their free seats to the show to open extra spaces, and staff allowed extra concert-goers to come in and fill seats after about 10 students left when Kevin Devine finished playing.
Zielinski says she’s accepted that she missed the show, but added that she hopes CUB will change its “Welcome Back Weekend Concert” policies in the future.
“I wish they would pre-sell tickets next time, and maybe have some sort of cut off,” she said. “They should have told people like, from this point on (in the line) you’re not getting in.”
James Queally can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.