In its inaugural year as a separate department within the Cabinet of the Undergraduate Government of Boston College (UGBC), BC to Boston has aimed to offer a wide variety of events to BC students. For its first two years of existence, BC to Boston was housed within the Student Life department, and those who worked on the team were not officially considered members of UGBC. Currently, the department consists of director Sarah Slater, A&S ’13, deputy director Tim Koch, A&S ’14, Senate liaison Sean McBride, A&S ’15, 11 coordinators, and five freshman mentees. “This year, we have more manpower, and are also involved in the greater UGBC as an organization,” said Sarah Slater, director of BC to Boston and A&S ’13.
“One of our main goals this year really was to not only diversify the types of programs that we were sponsoring … but we also wanted to increase students’ access to the city, which meant doing more events than we had done in the past,” Koch, who focuses on the ticketing aspect of BC to Boston, said. He explained that when deciding which events to sponsor, BC to Boston first looks at traditional events that would have the greatest chance of selling out: sporting events such as Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics games.
“This year, we also tried to do a lot of things we’d never done previously, and we’ve tried to increase the number of free events that we sponsor as well,” Koch said. “So we really rely on selling out events that we’re subsidizing tickets for, in order to plan free events.”
Events that were typically high-demand had more flexibility when it comes to setting a price, according to Koch. As an example, he used the Bruins game on Mar. 16, which BC to Boston is planning in conjunction with Nights on the Heights and will subsidize by $50 per ticket, which is a larger amount than the department usually pays for events. Because the Bruins were in a lockout, however, Koch said that they could not find tickets for cheaper than $90. Students will therefore pay only $40 for the tickets, which Slater said go on sale Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 8 a.m. Tickets that can be bought far in advance generally require a smaller subsidy-Koch also noted that concerts tended to be less expensive than athletics events.
This year, after Koch and Slater, who focuses on finances, presented UGBC President Chris Osnato, A&S ’13, with a proposed budget, BC to Boston was allotted $23,000 from the money that UGBC amasses from the student activities fee. “In addition to that, we felt that there was a need to increase the fine arts programming on campus,” Koch said. “So, what Sarah and I set out to do was, in addition to that $23,000, we were able to appeal to the Student Programs Office, and [former Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick] Rombalski-while he was still here-granted us an additional amount of money to plan events that were for more artistically-inclined students.” Koch said that BC to Boston could not disclose the exact amount granted to them by SPO, but mentioned that this additional funding subsidized tickets to events such as War Horse, Jersey Boys, The Nutcracker, and assorted concerts at Boston Symphony Hall.
Besides simply selling such tickets, BC to Boston also deals with last-minute circumstances that might interfere with the events. “We always remind our department that the weather is definitely a factor,” Koch said. “This is something that we’ve definitely had to keep in mind for events in the past.” Most recently, winter storm Nemo led to the cancellation of a BC to Boston-sponsored show of Jersey Boys, which was originally planned for Feb. 8. According to Koch, the Citi Emerson Colonial Theater offered BC to Boston a complete refund or the option to reschedule-Koch said that, since the theater kept the price steady and offered to ensure that BC students would remain seated together, the department thought that rescheduling the event was the better option.
“The general rule of thumb is that, when we are doing ticketing and an event is cancelled, we try to find an alternative, to avoid the majority of the kinks, and then we’ll work with students on a one-on-one basis if there are any extenuating circumstances,” Koch said. He noted that, since the department was able to reschedule the cancelled Jersey Boys show for Feb. 15, a week after the original date, there were fewer complications than there would have been if refunds had to be issued. While some students could not attend the rescheduled show, they were advised to sell their tickets to other BC students. Koch said that BC to Boston kept the list of students who purchased tickets updated, and coordinated with Robsham so that students could pick up their new tickets. The key, said Slater, was communicating with students and making sure they were aware of any changes to events.
BC to Boston conducts its ticketing through Robsham Theater and their main contact, according to Koch, is Kim Principi. When BC to Boston needs tickets for an event, Koch will fill out a request on MyBC approximately a month in advance. Tickets go to Principi, who distributes them to students, and the revenue that she collects is credited to the BC to Boston account. Koch also noted that BC to Boston tries to give a few tickets for each of their events to the Montserrat Coalition, an organization in the division of Mission and Ministry that provides tickets to low-income students. “We make it a goal to give a few tickets to all of our events to the Montserrat Coalition, so that way we’re not just catering to those students who can necessarily afford to purchase those tickets,” he said.
“We have two very, very big events coming up,” Koch said. “One is a concert, and one is a fine arts event. We really want to surprise students by those events so we haven’t yet disclosed them to the public, but we’re very excited about them, because we think that it’s really going to entice students to access the city a little bit more.” Slater said that the big events would probably be announced in March, after Spring Break.
Other upcoming events include a Red Sox game in April, a Hoodie Allen concert, a night at Sunset Grill, and another event at Harpoon Brewery.
“We also have a charity golf tournament that we’re in the process of planning,” Koch said. There is no set date yet, but they’re looking at the end of April as a likely time. “It’s going to be the first golf tournament that UGBC has sponsored, to my knowledge,” he said. “The goal of it is to not only promote awareness, but to fundraise for ALS. We’re working in conjunction with BC Athletics to make the event as attention-grabbing as possible, especially since there are two people who are affiliated-I’m not entirely sure how-with BC Athletics who have ALS, so we really wanted to incorporate [BC] Athletics in one of the events that we did, and we thought that golf would be a great way to do so.”
After the newly-revised UGBC constitution takes effect in the fall, BC to Boston will fall into the larger programming department. “One of our concerns with the restructuring prior to the most recent version of the constitution was the preservation of BC to Boston,” Koch said. “Would this be considered an RSO in the future? Or would it be an entity under the Vice President of Programming?” He said that he, Slater, and the co-directors of Campus Programming-Dan Rimm, CSOM ’13, and Mike Cavoto, A&S ’13-came together to devise a more detailed structure for programming in the new UGBC. According to Koch and Slater, BC to Boston would continue to be incorporated in UGBC programming.
“There might be a slight change in the number of committee members, just given that the fact that the purpose of the restructuring was to make the organization more efficient and to downsize and streamline it, but I don’t see the numbers changing a ton,” Slater said. “In terms of BC to Boston and the way that it functions, it will still function the same way under the new structure, it will just be incorporated into a larger programming body.”