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Pembroke ball tickets provoke controversy

As students count down the weeks to Pembroke College’s ninth week Commemoration Ball, anger over “inaccessible” ticket prices has mounted. Regularly priced tickets for the ball sold out upon their release, leaving only VIP tickets priced at £446, advertised to alumni. Over 1200 people tried and failed to obtain tickets at the release.

Chloe Pomfret, an undergraduate student at St Catherine’s Collegem who co-chairs Oxford’s Class Act Campaign, decried the prices on Twitter, posting “you wonder why Oxford is so inaccessible for working class students… £446 for one college ball.”

The pricing received national attention. In response to the controversy, Pembroke alum and former Big Brother contestant Derek Laud offered to cover the cost of tickets for “socially disadvantaged” Pembroke students. The Daily Mail also featured the story. 

Standard student tickets sold for much cheaper, at £166. Last month, Pembroke Ball organisers released £106 “community tickets” designed to help increase access to the ball for students who would be unable to pay the student ticket price. This is higher than typical ball access tickets, which range from £40-60. 

The controversy follows the publication of a report detailing the differences in funding, amenities, and other resources available to students across colleges, published by the  SU-supported College Disparities Campaign. Pembroke College falls on the lower end of the funding spectrum; its rent and accomodation fees are some of the highest across the university. 

Pembroke Ball has also banned ticket resale and name change for most student tickets, leaving some students unable to transfer tickets to friends. In their online statement, Pembroke Ball explained that the limits are designed to prevent extreme markups on resale prices.

This hasn’t stopped current ticket holders from advertising on Oxtickets and other platforms in an effort to find available tickets. One seller offered a student ticket for £360, more than double the original price. 

Pembroke ball president declined to comment on the matter.

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