As Graduation Approaches, Students and Families Encounter Ticket Scams 

Gracie Burgess, Staff Writer

Due to the capacity of the graduating class, FGCU is holding four graduation ceremonies to accommodate families, but some students and families feel this isn’t enough. 

With spring 2023 commencement upon us, many students are excited to be able to walk the stage in a traditional ceremony. For some, this is a very momentous occasion since they graduated high school in spring 2020. Due to the uprising of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students did not get to attend a traditional high school commencement ceremony. 

“At this time, FGCU is only able to offer four tickets per student due to the amount of graduates at each ceremony, and capacity limitations at Alico Arena (where the ceremonies are being held),” Coordinator of University Communications and Media Relations Pamela McCabe said.

Many students and parents, like Tammy W., have taken to Facebook to try and find tickets available to purchase from others who do not need them. While it may seem like a good idea at first, there have been scams going around the “FGCU Graduation Tickets” Facebook group. 

One individual posed as a student that was unable to attend graduation alongside their friends and had multiple tickets that would be for sale.Desperate for tickets, some parents went through with the deal, later finding out after they sent the payment, the account would stop responding.

“When the person [direct messaged] me and not any of the other 100 or so people that were needing tickets, it was my first red flag,” Tammy said. “They wouldn’t let me pay [PayPal] friends and family to avoid fees and were very persistent about paying now.”

Tammy soon saw others were experiencing the same problems with that account and knew she made the right choice to trust her instincts and not purchase tickets.

“The university does not sell guest tickets for commencement, and those attempting to purchase tickets online should be wary of scams and the potential of fake tickets,” McCabe said. “Each commencement ticket comes with a unique barcode. This means duplicate tickets will not be accepted. Once a ticket is scanned, a duplicate ticket will not be accepted, and people will be turned away at the door.”

Heather Borrelli is a FGCU alum who had a very similar challenge when she graduated from FGCU in 2016. 

“It only impacted me because I had to consider who I invited,” Borrelli said. “Just family, no friends.”

However, when Borrelli graduated, she was given six tickets, unlike the spring 2023 graduates who are getting four.

Tammy and Borrelli both agree that there needs to be a solution to this yearly, ongoing problem.

Alico Arena has a capacity of 4,633, making it a smaller arena in comparison to the growing student body on FGCU’s campus of 15,971 in the fall of 2021.

“They are having growing pains for sure,” Tammy said. “From housing, to classes, to parking, it is a problem for them.”

While four tickets to graduation may not be enough for many students, there are going to be more tickets released the week of April 24. There is no guarantee for all students to get the number of tickets they desire, but there is a chance to get more tickets.

“Please note that each ceremony will be streamed live,” McCabe said. “The link will be published on the FGCU commencement website prior to each ceremony, but not until the day of the event. The ceremony will also be broadcast live in the Cohen Student Union, room 214, where chairs will be set up for viewers.”

Students and parents are advised to remain cautious and not purchase tickets offline from other students or parents who seem to be selling tickets.