Tickets for this year’s Senior Week cost $100 if purchased by Friday. Last year the cheapest Senior Week tickets sold for $70. This $30 increase in ticket price has caused some dissatisfaction among members of the senior class. Senior Week tickets purchased between Monday, May 8, and Monday, May 22, will cost $110. Tickets purchased after May 22 will cost $125.
The cost of sponsoring all Senior Week activities is $75,055. The College donates $13,900 for Light Night festivities, and ticket sales to the senior class provide the rest of the approximately $61000 of funding.
“The price is actually not to make any sort of income or to pad the account so that [seniors] can give a donation to the College. It’s just to cover all the costs,” said Rich Kelley, activities coordinator.
In an email sent to the senior class Monday night, Kelley provided an explanation of Senior Week expenses. The senior dinner dance costs $25,000. The cost of food is covered by students’ meal plans, so the $25,000 covers the cost of busing students to Mt. Hope Farm, Security, Dining Services and Buildings and Grounds (B&G) employees, portable toilets, alcohol and various other expenses. Alcohol will be available at seven of the Senior Week parties, and providing that alcohol will cost over $10,000.
Since 1997, Senior Week ticket prices had been $70. However, the recent increase in the minimum wage, increased costs for Security and Dining Services and increased rental costs for the buses used to transport seniors from campus to Mt. Hope Farm have led to additional $5,000-$7,000 in expenses. According to Kelley, this increase accounts for “a third, if not half” of the increased cost to hold Senior Week.
An additional $9000 has been spent this year to sponsor new “Fun-4-All” afternoon on Friday, June 2, which will include a variety of activities, including a candle and wax hand making booth, a “bungee challenge” a “Velcro wall,” a balloon artist and a caricature artist.
Commenting on the new Senior Week activities, Erin Morrissette, senior class president, said, “Since there are always parties every night of senior week, we all, the officers and [Kelley], wanted to add some daytime events, which would not involve alcohol, but would be another way of bringing the class together, and in a central place like Baxter Lawn.”
“We also thought that since so many families are around on Friday, many with younger siblings, that this would be a nice event that all ages could enjoy together.”
Kelley also emphasized that the new Senior Week activities will be enjoyable to family members of graduating seniors. He also said, “One of the things that’s going to happen with the Fun-4-All is that seniors will get to leave with things in hand. There’s going to be the caricature artist; there’s going to be magazine photos, where you can put your face on a magazine cover; the wax hands and candles, they’re going to say Williams College, Class of 2000 on them, so you get to take things with you too versus just partying and then it’s over.”
Kelley contracted the professional DJ service, novelty show, comedians, hypnotist, and airbrush, and planned the Fun-4-All activities.
“I planned Senior Week, but it was in conversation with the senior class officers. I didn’t do anything that they didn’t approve of. I also discussed the pricing structure with Erin [Morrissette]. The issue was being able to plan so far in advance,” Kelley said.
“My understanding is most of what happens during Senior Week, with the exception of a few new things that we’ve added, are traditions that people wanted kept. Tom DeLuca [the hypnotist] has been here for ten years,” said Kelley.
In response to the increase in ticket prices, Sarah Mandle ’00 said, “It’s too bad the activities couldn’t have been cheaper. I think the only event worth the money is the senior dinner dance, but not $100. I wish we could just pay depending on what events we were planning to attend.”
Kelley explained that the difficulties in planning for such a large event months in advance is directly related to the way tickets are sold. “The way I’ve seen it described before is the price of the dinner dance includes everything else for free,” Kelley said.
“We expected that there would be an increase in ticket price, but we did not anticipate the magnitude of the increase,” Morrissette said speaking on behalf of the senior class officers. “We told him to use his judgment in contracting these services, and although we all think it’s very expensive, and would wish that he plans less expensive events in the future, it looks like it will be a fantastic week! We are very appreciative for all the hard work that he has put into making this week wonderful for all of us!”
“In light of the excesses that we knowingly participate in every day (for example, wine club, SUVs that somehow stay shiny), I think it’s amusing that people are making a big stink about Senior Week prices,” said Andrea Mazzariello ’00 about the price increases.
“At the same time, something like Senior Week should be inclusive of the entire class, and to make an assumption like ‘a mere $100 will include the whole senior class’ betrays a certain insensitivity to what $100 actually means to many people,” he said.
In past years, approximately 90 percent of the senior has class purchased Senior Week tickets. This year, as of Monday afternoon, 120 tickets had already been sold. Seniors can pay for tickets in cash, check and, for the first time, by charging the cost of the tickets to their term bills.
Financial aid students who cannot afford the $100 ticket price should contact Morrissette before Friday. “We don’t want an inability to pay for senior week to stop a student from attending…We are not making a set discount, but rather we are helping each senior based on his/her individual circumstances. I also want to stress that any senior should not be embarrassed to contact me if they need aid. It is completely confidential.”