Taylor Swift on Campus winner announced but the gotcha remains?
Congratulations to Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California on winning the 'Taylor Swift on Campus' contest! Details of the pending live performance by Swift and the $10,000 grant are on the Chegg blog.
Also winning a $10,000 music department grant, but not a live performance by Swift, are Seton High School, Terra Environmental Research Institute, Bellarmine College Preparatory and the California Institute of Technology. The money should aid greatly in the furtherance of the performing arts for all the students.
The student body of Harvey Mudd have much to look forward to, but it hasn’t been all wine and roses during the contest, that’s for sure.
Kids Can Be So Cruel
Just shortly after the Taylor Swift on Campus contest started things took an odd turn. The contest requires that people must sign-into chegg.com using their Facebook account in order to vote for a school. It is important to note that the Chegg website did not present a predefined list of eligible schools to vote for and the act of voting for a school was done by clicking a Facebook "Like” button. This lack of predefined eligibility and the fuzzy nature of Facebook “Likes” may be the root cause of the shenanigans that were to follow.
Internet pranksters manipulated the voting and artificially caused Horace Mann School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to be in the lead to win the contest. Some say the prank is mean spirited and cruel, while others say the prank sheds light on the faulty nature of online voting using Facebook “Likes”. The mangled contest voting may also be a good indicator that online voting for political candidates is still not ready for prime time. Taking that objective viewpoint would actually make the prank a positive, if it leads to better security practices for online voting. We do feel the prank is insensitive, but laying blame for the upset apple cart solely at the feet of the prankers may not be accurate, since there are several website that charge money for fraudulent online contest voting, getonlinevotes.com being one of them.
Since the news of the prank has made national headlines, Chegg has changed the rules for voting. On September 21, the student journalists at Del Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona wrote that after reaching out to contest officials, a rule change had been implemented to counter the fraudulent voting:
Chegg changed the method they used to choose which school is in first place. Instead of ranking schools by the number of total votes, Chegg ranks the schools based on the number of students enrolled. This creates a more level playing field for smaller schools and explains why the website doesn't say how close we are to a competing area anymore.
Fraudulent voting, rule changes and opaque school standings may make one dismiss the contest and think that it should be cancelled. But take a moment to read the response from Horace Mann.
Making Lemonade from Lemons
Matt Rocheleau recently wrote on boston.com how the educators at Horace Mann School for the Deaf are taking the prank in-stride and turning the potential negative into a positive. The article quotes the school’s headmaster Jeremiah Ford, saying he would be thrilled to have Swift perform at the school, should they win the voting. Through vibrations, visuals and other assistance, people who are deaf and hard of hearing can sense, compose and perform music.
School Headmaster Ford says he sees the situation as a teachable moment.
[the prank] might have been done with mal intent, and shame on them, but what a great opportunity for us. The whole message is deaf people can do anything they want to do. And they do, there’s no stopping anybody. I'm a lemonade from lemons kind of guy.
We applaud Mr. Ford as well as the teachers and students of Horace for having the right attitude. Although we may not be able to cheer for the contest rules and the big corporate sponsors quite as loudly...
Elephant in the Room
Now that contest is over, the question remains - Will Harvey Mudd have to pay all the costs for the Taylor Swift on Campus event? We asked that in our original post about the somewhat cold “You’re on your own” tone buried in the contest FAQs:
The winning school will administer handing out tickets and manage the selection process of who is able to attend, based on the size of the venue available for the show.
As part of the original post, we reached out to the contest officials to ask about the onus of paying for the costs of a Taylor Swift concert. We never heard back from any of the sources we reach out to about this, so we can only assume our original concern was basically correct.
Since we are experts on events, specifically events that require a ticket for admission, we had a serious concern about a high school or college being responsible for a such a major event. Taylor Swift's staggering popularity means her appearance must not be run as a "everyone just show up" free-for-all. It has to be a ticketed event on the grounds of safety and security. There is still time for an orderly ramp-up though. The staff at Harvey Mudd can read our guides on event safety and security, best practices for staving off counterfeit tickets and the advantages of selling/distributing tickets online.
The scope and scale of a Taylor Swift concert has been a challenge even for the most sophisticated professional venues. Even though Harvey Mudd is ranked as the 4th most expensive college in the country, all too often, organizations like schools and nonprofits do not have the time or the resources to put on holiday performance for parents, let alone a Taylor Swift concert. ThunderTix offers a ticketing software for nonprofits that charges no fees.
Our offer stands - We would love to work with the HAS faculty at Harvey Mudd College and be their ticket provider. That same offer is extended to YOU as well. Should your school or nonprofit be in need of the tools to sell tickets or take donations, we are confident that our technology will exceed your expectations.