Monday, May 6, 2024

Racine students can buy prom tickets with cash, but some say options still too limited

From JSOnline:

As more school districts move to online-only ticketing for events, some students say that excludes low-income and non-English speaking families.

Gina Lee Castro
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Just in time for this year's prom, students in Racine Unified School District can purchase their tickets in cash.

The agreement to accept cash payment for the county's main prom event comes 11 months after some students began advocating for the school district to expand options for cash ticketing. Those students said online-only ticket sales for school events caused barriers for low-income and non-English speaking families.

Racine's main prom event is organized by the Racine Founder's Rotary Club, not the school district. The service organization hosts a county-wide prom for high school students called "Post Prom." Not all high schools in the county have a traditional prom, so "Post Prom" is the only version of prom some students have access to.

Racine Unified School District spokesperson Stacy Tapp said the district asked Racine Rotary to accept cash payment for prom, and the organizers agreed.

"I think we're the only district in the county that requested to do cash sales," Tapp said in an email.

However, some students said they are unsatisfied that some RUSD schools are only offering cash sales on certain days.

A crowd of more than 40 students gathered on the lawn outside of the RUSD offices on May 1. Students and two teachers took turns speaking in a megaphone to demand the district reinstate cash payment for all events and for all days prom tickets are sold.

"It is a win, but why only two days? Why can't it be more?" said Jessica Malacara, a teacher and parent at Horlick High School.

Many of the students were from Horlick and are members of Youth Empowered in the Struggle, the youth chapter of immigrant rights organization Voces de la Frontera. They began protesting after the school district transferred ticketing for all after-school events to the online system Ticket Spicket in 2022.

The district stopped offering cash sales at events due to safety concerns and lack of staffing, said Tapp, the school district spokesperson.

But students with Youth Empowered in the Struggle said the limits on cash payment exclude households that don't have access to bank accounts or can't navigate the Ticket Spicket website in English.

The students' request to reinstate an on-site cash payment system for all after school events was turned down by Horlick and RUSD leadership, although district officials said staff will find ways to accommodate students who can only pay in cash.

Eliana Gibson, 17, said it's disappointing that cash sales for Post Prom tickets are restricted to just two days out of the two weeks that Horlick High School is selling tickets. She said students have to purchase tickets during lunch, and the line is so long that students might not have enough time to get their ticket and eat.

"People have to make sure that they get their money, and if it's only two days, it's like putting a barrier on them," Gibson said. "I don't think that's OK at all."

Tapp said the decision about how and when to sell prom tickets is made on a school-by-school basis. She encouraged students to approach their principals directly with complaints.

"The YES students are well-spoken and have demonstrated their ability to speak up for themselves and their peers," she said in an email. "If they have concerns, I would encourage them to approach their school leaders who are always willing to listen and work together when possible."

In previous years, Racine Rotary accepted cash payment, said spokesperson Alicia Schmitz. Racine Rotary has since transitioned to using the digital ticketing system Eventbrite because schools prefer it, she said.

"We're doing everything we can to work with the schools, and we will not turn the students away regardless of how the payment has to come in," Schmitz said.

Gina Castro is a Public Investigator reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She can be reached at


No comments: