How UMBC budgets for Homecoming to get students to attend
Pleasing everyone is a hard thing to do, but when it comes to Homecoming, it’s imperative to try. UMBC plans as safely as possible – but by playing it safe, are they giving students what they want?
Every year for Homecoming, UMBC is charged with the task of finding a performer that appeals to the majority of the student body. This year, comedian Bo Burnham will take the stage at UMBC’s Retriever Activity Center, but the decision to book him, and the choice to get a comedian instead of a musical act, wasn’t easy.
The entirety of the Student Events Board works together in deciding who should perform at Homecoming. It’s tough when their decision is limited by a budget, time constraints and what students will actually attend and enjoy.
Budget-wise, whatever act is picked has to be priced reasonably so that ticket costs can stay low enough for college students to afford. It may seem easy in theory to pay for a big name performer, but that would increase ticket prices as well, something that may drive off students who would otherwise go along with their friends solely because it’s a cheap event.
Tickets to see Burnham will cost between $12-15 depending on where they are bought, a price some students might be willing to pay even if they aren’t familiar with the comedian’s material.
According to Assistant Director of Student Life Jen Dress, getting a comedian makes sense for Homecoming, as it is a busy time for everyone involved in organizing events. “The biggest reason we pick comedy for Homecoming is time,” she said. The RAC has a number of games and practices going on during Homecoming, so it would be difficult to set up an entire stage for a band with such short gaps between events.
It’s also a struggle to find an act that everyone will enjoy. While it might be difficult to find a musical act that most people will enjoy, comedy is not as divisive. “Comedy is a little less polarizing than music,” Dress said.
In order to get students into seats and still have a good time, (seb) has to look for acts that don’t break their budget, appeal to wide audiences and fit into the Homecoming schedule. They have been effective in doing this and brought great acts to UMBC.
One thing (seb) could do better is polling for student opinions. For other events, they have opened up an online poll for students to vote on which act they would like to see more. If students had a general idea of what to expect, it could help not only in securing acts that students actually want to see, but in promoting the event itself.
As for this year’s event, Bo Burnham will be taking the stage on October 11 at the RAC. Students will vote with their feet by choosing whether or not to attend, but the cheap ticket prices give them little to lose.