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Magic Gardens Tickets Never Existed, Just Construct Teaching Privileged Feeling of 'Wanting and Not Receiving'


Photo by Paul Joseph / CC BY 2.0

This past Sunday, researches in Penn’s department of sociology announced that Castle’s Magic Gardens event would not be coming back, and, no, it wasn’t canceled. In a press conference to the University, Dr. Tanvi Kapoor revealed that her team in Penn’s sociology department was behind this round of tickets, not the fraternity. She explained that they never had any tickets available to sell, and, instead, her team orchestrated the online ticket sale interface as part of a study to see the intersection between “privilege and want.”

“We were interested in understanding the social and psychological ramifications of someone telling these students that they cannot have the toy they want,” said Kapoor. “The response was even bigger than we expected.”

To begin the experiment, Kapoor said she wanted to make sure that the students participating felt very confident that they could and would get a ticket. The tickets were advertised online at a going rate of about $60. While some students found that price prohibitive, others tabulated that their parents gave them enough money for "something fun" last month to cover the cost.

The experiment was set up in three rounds. Each participant was given a specific time to log on and attempt to get a ticket. Within seconds of reaching their allotted time, the site was programmed to shut down. Some participants were told that the tickets had been sold out within seconds. Others had their screens programmed to appear as though the website crashed. 

“We found that those who experienced the crash were more likely to feel like they deserved a ticket, but across the board all participants felt like the world was out to get them,” said Kapoor. “80% of participants cried.”

Head of sociology Haley Carter said she was proud of her department for their groundbreaking research. According to Carter, no institution has ever conducted such a thorough look into the ramifications of privilege on emotional stability. Carter went on to say that if Penn is to continue to produce the next generation of leaders, they need to address this issue.

“At this school, we say we are educating kids for their futures, but we never think about the many students who are so privileged that they don’t have the emotional stability to thrive in the general public. And we have seen that through these Magic Gardens ticket sales. One 'no you can’t' and they absolutely fall apart.”