Hundreds wait hours in line for Clinton tickets

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

View a slideshow of the line for Clinton tickets

In order to secure a prime spot in line for tickets to former President Bill Clinton’s policy address, Ray Serrano ’07 and four friends set up tents on the Main Green at 4 p.m. Sunday, preparing themselves for a 20-hour wait.

“It’s a nice day. We’ve just been drinking, enjoying the sun,” Serrano said. “We just needed something worth camping out for.”

Though his extreme promptness – Serrano was among the first of over 1,000 people to line up – might suggest a significant devotion to the former president, Serrano said he is “not really a Clinton fan.”

“I don’t really expect him to say anything new. … I might sell my ticket,” he said.

But not all students were as indifferent. “He could really talk about anything and I would still go,” said Jackie Henry ’06, who started her wait in Faunce House at 8:20 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets for the speech, “Embracing Our Common Humanity: Security and Prosperity in the 21st Century,” which Clinton will deliver Friday at 1:30 p.m. in Meehan Auditorium, were distributed Monday to holders of active Brown ID cards from the security booth in Faunce House between noon and 3 p.m. and between 5 and 7 p.m.

According to Mark Nickel, director of the Brown News Service, at noon Monday there were just over 3,000 tickets for the live presentation in Meehan available for distribution. From noon to 3 p.m. about 1,200 tickets were distributed, he said.

In an interview early Monday evening, Nickel estimated about 700 tickets would be distributed between 5 and 7 p.m., leaving approximately 1,000 tickets available for distribution during the same time slots on subsequent days. Once all the tickets for the seating in Meehan have been given out, 2,500 tickets for the video simulcast in the Pizzitola Center will be distributed, Nickel said.

Seating for the events will be on a first-come, first-served basis, so the order in which tickets were distributed will have no bearing on the order in which ticket holders are admitted to the venue.

Clinton’s visit to Brown coincides with a conference organized by the Brown Democrats that will host over 500 students from 43 different schools. After delivering his Meehan address, Clinton will speak to the conference attendees in Alumnae Hall.

According to Seth Magaziner ’06, president of the Brown Dems, this smaller event “will be a more political event … about the state of the Democratic Party and the (2004) election, asking, ‘Where do we go from here?’ … a much more partisan sort of thing.”

Jason Davis ’08, who arrived in the vestibule in front of the security booth at 8:15 p.m. Sunday with friends Nathanael Miller ’08 and Tom Bergman ’08, said, “I’m here because I usually pull an all-nighter anyway, so I thought I might as well get a ticket while I’m at it.”

The three had originally planned to arrive in Faunce at 11 p.m., but they bumped up their plans when they saw that students had already set up tents on the Main Green. “I was worried that people might start filling up this space (in the vestibule). This is the only power outlet and I didn’t want to be without my laptop for 16 hours,” Davis said.

Though Davis and his friends are bigger fans of Clinton than Serrano is, none of them said they had high expectations for the address. “I do think he can say more now that he’s not president, but I’m not expecting anything groundbreaking … but I do think we’re in for a good show,” Miller said.

By noon Monday, when ticket distribution began, the line snaked out of the ground level of Faunce and zigzagged across the Main Green, out of the southwest gate and onto George Street, stretching three-quarters of the way to Thayer Street.

By that time, Gabe Prestol ’07, who camped out on the Main Green with Serrano, had already received his ticket – the first one to be distributed – and was busy packing up his group’s two tents.

Late Sunday night, Prestol said, they were joined by a group of about 10 Phi Kappa Psi brothers, all of whom slept in one large tent. Together, they named their campsite “Billville,” Prestol said.

By 3 a.m., the group had already received a noise violation and an album dedication on WBRU. Thanks to their portable grill, the Phi Psi brothers were able to enjoy a late-night snack of baked beans. They said they planned to have breakfast delivered to Billville at 6:30 a.m.

Vance Monet ’08, who got on the ticket line at 9 a.m. and received his ticket around 2 p.m., said he is interested in attending the address because now that Clinton is “freed from the shackles” of the presidency he will be able to “speak more liberally … (and) approach issues from a different perspective.”

According to Monet, line-cutting Monday afternoon by “people without honor” was prevalent. “People would walk by me as if they didn’t know what was going on and then two or three hours later they were in line in front of me,” he said.

Monet said a friend of his counted 40 people in front of him when he initially joined the line and 125 people when he finally received his ticket.

Marissa Colon-Margolies ’07, who had wrapped herself in a blanket against the cold, joined the line at 7:45 a.m. By 12:15 p.m. she had moved up to a spot in front of the steps of Faunce. Looking out across the crowded Main Green, she said, “I hope someone takes pictures of this and shows them to Clinton … to let him know they’re expecting a good show.”