story Abdul Hamid
Interested in attending a show? Email the Rector’s Office and, with enough student interest, they might get tickets. You get to see the show, and pay a subsidized amount for it! Colloquially known as the Rector’s Office copay, this informal arrangement has become the go-to for students who want to attend ticketed events outside Yale-NUS College. What students may not know, however, is that the copay is part of a larger budget under the Rector’s Office.
The Office’s stated role is to help build a cohesive community, create bonds amongst students, and instil a sense of belonging in students at the College. Mr. Brian McAdoo, Elm College Rector, sees the copay arrangement as one way of fulfilling that aim.”It gets student to do stuff together … [and] develops social and cultural capital.” Mr. McAdoo questioned, however, how effective this arrangement was in achieving the former aim, saying that it only brings together specific segments of the community with similar interests.
The Rector’s Office has subsidized tickets for performances such as the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake in 2013 and The Wooster Group’s Cry, Trojans!. Ticket prices for such performances are usually steep. “I don’t think students would go … if there wasn’t a copay,” said Adlin Zainal ’17.
Student initiative drives decisions as to whether tickets will be bought for a specific event. “Based on the interest, … we will work out how many tickets to get and how much the copay will be,” said Ms. Indrani Kaliyaperumal, who handles the copay arrangement as Senior Executive of Elm College. The only exception is if the event falls during the Reading or Exam weeks, in which case the Office will not copay the event. While this allows the office to be responsive to student needs, it also means an informal system with no clear guidelines.
“How do you justify what gets copay and what doesn’t? Why does [the 2015 St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival] get copay but [a] Katy Perry concert doesn’t?” asked Zainal. She noted, however, that there was no simple way to decide if something was culturally significant enough to be subsidized for students by the Rector’s Office.
After tickets for an event have been purchased, they are given out through a ballot of students who had indicated their interest in the event. However, some students frequently fail to collect their tickets. Ms. Indrani said, “until that last few hours I would have … a few tickets left because there would be students who … will never turn up”.
Ms. Indrani moves students who consistently do not show up to a lower priority. “I have no choice … I would rather give it to students who [have not] attended events [before], even if you were the first to ask for the tickets, you … previously didn’t respond to me and didn’t collect them”. She added, however, that the situation has improved from last semester. She usually tells the students who have collected their tickets to spread the word to other students who may be interested.
Moving forward, the Rector’s Office will have to ensure that the copay arrangement can continue to cater to students even as the college grows. “I think they will benefit in the long run if they were more transparent with the process,” said Zainal.
What is certain is that the copay arrangement is here to stay. Mr. McAdoo said, “We are a twenty minute train ride from the city and we are right in the middle of so much. We would be remiss not to take advantage of that.”