This year, tickets for the School of Foreign Service’s annual Diplomatic Ball are $81 including tax — a significant amount of money for any Hoya. Those who are hit hardest, however, are students already under financial distress.

Arguably a bucket-list event for Georgetown students, the Diplomatic Ball gives Hoyas the opportunity to converse and dance with individuals in the diplomatic community, all of whom have valuable stories and advice to share.

However, the sky-high Diplomatic Ball prices are a reminder for financially disadvantaged Hoyas that their inability to pay a hefty amount can mean being excluded from a valuable experience. To ensure all students have access to this event, Georgetown should make tickets more affordable.

While Georgetown has done a good job of making many events accessible, either by offering financial assistance or making the event free, now and again underprivileged students are reminded of how the massive wealth gap of Georgetown’s student body can exclude them from what is a cornerstone of the elite Washington, D.C. experience. Though the exorbitant cost of attending the ball may not be of concern to some students, for others it is another jarring reminder of this wealth gap.

There are many reasons why your average Hoya would want to attend the Diplomatic Ball. For one thing, it is an opportunity for valuable networking and for students to get advice from people in careers in which they see themselves in the future. For many students, this very opportunity to network and exposure to the outside D.C. community may have been one of the reasons that they chose to attend Georgetown in the first place. The ability to have conversations with accomplished people is a privilege that shouldn’t be reserved for only those who can afford it. Everyone deserves an experience like that.

Additionally, the Diplomatic Ball is also a chance for students to dress up with their friends and mingle with some accomplished people in a fun setting. Dip Ball affords a time to escape from the stressful time of midterms and papers. As the campus becomes abuzz with excitement for the event, it would be unfair for students who can’t afford the exorbitant tickets to be left out. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to dress up and have fun.

The high costs of attending our elite university extend beyond tuition, room and board. Students who struggle to find winter clothes, fund trips home or find business casual attire for job or club interviews can also feel social pressure when they sacrifice social outings for extra shifts at work. The added exclusion from this essential Georgetown experience can mean additional social ostracization.

If I didn’t have the privilege of having a steady on-campus job and a generous scholarship through the Georgetown Scholarship Program, I would be unable to afford to attend the ball. However, students should not need scholarships to access the Diplomatic Ball. Just like Georgetown itself, the ball would be a more valuable experience with more socio-economic diversity; students from different socio-economic backgrounds can offer unique points of view and represent Georgetown more accurately to the diplomats who attend this ball.

Though tickets are already sold out, the university should act to make the tickets more affordable next year for all students. Last week, for example, I received an email from the Georgetown Scholarship Program about a raffle for 25 students to receive free tickets thanks to a generous donation. Of course, students may still face barriers beyond just entry to the ball; the costs of finding a dress or a tuxedo and transportation can make the Diplomatic Ball out of reach even for students who can afford the outlandish price of the ticket. Nevertheless, it would be a step in the right direction to fully or partially subsidize the price of tickets for students with financial need. There is a lot of improvement to be done.

Dip Ball is a quintessential Georgetown experience, and active inclusion efforts through financial assistance can foster a greater sense of community and belonging for students who may sometimes feel overlooked. It is time that the ball stopped being an event solely for the financially elite.

Julia Paluch is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

One Comment

  1. Dip Ball is a joke. I went once my freshman year, it was basically a glorified corporate holiday party.

    You really aren’t missing out an anything.

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