Hughes Hall May Ball 2006Michael Derringer

Hughes Hall will offer a 20% discount for tickets at this year’s May Ball for students on full bursaries — the first time any Cambridge college has implemented a progressive pricing system.

While its May Ball is already the cheapest in Cambridge, at £95 per ticket, this year’s Ball on the 16th June will offer £75 tickets to full bursary students at every Cambridge college.

Hughes Hall May Ball 2018 co-presidents Georgia Ziebart and Harry Singh-Lalli said in a statement to Varsity that they hope the reform “will lead to better equality and access, allowing more students to enjoy a May Ball, which is such an integral part of the Cambridge student experience.

May Balls have been criticised for entrenching an elitist culture at CambridgeMichael Derringer

“We don’t think May Balls have to be elitist, or that they are intentionally so. The student body at Cambridge has (thankfully) changed and is changing and becoming more inclusive, and the May Ball scene needs to adapt - in the same way that some colleges have in terms of formals (i.e. making them less traditional by removing high tables etc.).”

Students wishing to claim the £75 price at Hughes Hall May Ball this year will have to provide proof of their full bursary when they purchase a ticket, such as a letter or an email. As a mature college, Hughes Hall admits undergraduate and postgraduate students only over the age of 21. However, its May Ball is open to students of all ages and at all colleges.

With most tickets usually ranging between £100-£150 per person, Cambridge May Balls are often accused of elitism for high prices which mean only affluent students can afford to attend. A two-person ticket to last year’s Trinity May Ball cost £380. Meanwhile, some students often take opportunities to work at May Balls, normally for around just £8 per hour.


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Varsity has previously revealed striking disparities between college budgets for May Balls and June Events, with the annual budget for Trinity College’s lavish May Ball approaching £300,000. Some other college committees, however, must make do with less than a sixth of that.

Ziebert and Singh-Lalli wish to champion the issue, saying that “the hope would be that other colleges will take notice and follow in our footsteps, especially since we have found that even as the cheapest May Ball, people struggle to afford tickets here. We will take this idea forward to other presidents at the next May Ball presidents’ committee. Hopefully in the long run this will make May Week more accessible to all.”

Is your May Ball or June Event committee also considering offering a similar discount? Let us know: news@varsity.co.uk

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