UFUSED launches Income Accessibility Ally program

Program partners with U-Guides to provide free tickets to Colonnade Ball

ns-UFUSED-Courtesy UFUSED at U.Va.

UFUSED hopes to expand their initiative and partner with other CIOs to erase the barrier of socioeconomic status in attending ticketed University events.

Courtesy UFUSED at U.Va.

United for Undergraduate Socioeconomic Diversity announced Tuesday the launch of a new initiative aimed at making ticketed events more accessible to low-income students at the University.

UFUSED at U.Va., a coalition of students and allies working to generate dialogue about socioeconomic issues at universities throughout the nation, is working with CIOs to give students who are recipients of need-based aid free tickets to University-sponsored events through the Income Accessibility Ally program. 

The first CIO that UFUSED is partnering with is the University Guide Service so that low-income students may attend the Nov. 3 Colonnade Ball for free. Tickets for the event are $12 online and $18 at the door. 

Francesca Callicotte, a third-year College student and president of UFUSED, is looking forward to helping students who come from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds attend school events worry-free with their friends.

“We understand that there are many barriers that low-income students face when they get to the University,” Callicotte said. “One of them is having a popping social life, having the ability to celebrate in whatever way they choose to do so and sometimes the fact [is] that these ticketed events cost money, like … the Colonnade Ball. We understand that low-income students may not be able to access those places of celebration.”

Callicotte, along with other student leaders, showed interest and concern for the fact that several University events were not accessible to low-income students. The UFUSED initiative was launched when they partnered with U-Guides to purchase 10 tickets to give out for free.

Edem Akwayena, a fourth-year Engineering student and Colonnade Ball chair, expanded the initiative when she wrote a letter to the Seven Society and left it on the Thomas Jefferson statue inside the Rotunda. A week later, the Sevens responded with a check for $777.77.

“They asked that the money be used to fund tickets for low-income students and because of that request, I was like ... We have to, we’re going to provide more tickets,” Akwayena said.

Now, U-Guides and UFUSED are offering 40 free tickets to students who are recipients of need-based aid on a first-come, first-serve basis. Akwayena added that the process of claiming free tickets is anonymous and tickets can be requested by emailing UFUSED at fic5cu@virginia.edu.

“This is a step in the right direction of building a greater community at U.Va. and making it so it doesn’t matter where you come from or what your status is … this can be a place for you, and I think it’s incredible that they did give us the funding and specifically, funding to help all sorts of students out,” Akwayena said.

Callicotte said UFUSED hopes to expand their initiative and partner with other CIOs to erase the barrier of socioeconomic status in attending ticketed events.

“We know that one of the major events of the year is RestoBall [Restoration Ball] and so we’re hoping to work with the Jefferson Literary and Debate Society to do the same thing that we did for the Colonnade Ball as well,” Callicotte said.

Callicotte said UFUSED has received positive feedback from students. 

“I really love that a lot of students seem to be really in support of trying to make things accessible to low-income students,” Callicotte said. “It’s nice to know that people are being aware and also that people are willing to open up their events to all kinds of people and to try to make it so that everyone can celebrate with them.”

Correction: This article previously misstated that U-Guides and UFUSED are offering 30 tickets to low-income students, however, they are currently offering 40 tickets. The article has been updated with the correct number. 

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