Underlying issues with prom

Price and distance factor into experience


Katie Nelson

If you’ve ever sat down to watch a teen rom-com, you’re sure to encounter a classic prom scene at least once or twice. From popular films such as “The Kissing Booth” to “10 Things I Hate About You” it’s no surprise that prom is often portrayed as a magical, once-in-a-lifetime evening. Going into my junior year, I’m positive that I was not the only one excited for the experience.  

But, for all the expectations surrounding prom, it sure racks up a price. So much so that in 2017, teens in the Midwest spent an average of $610 on prom alone. While I don’t know anyone who has spent quite that much, the cost of a dress suit, shoes, ticket and transportation alone quickly add up. Although I was prepared to pay these prices, the sheer expenses feel like an accessibility issue that might make prom an infeasible experience. 

This year, Park’s prom is being held at the Union Depot in St. Paul, a stunning venue that is a welcomed change after the lackluster proms of the past few years due to COVID-19. But, one of the issues presented is that it is approximately 25 minutes away from St. Louis Park. Although many seniors and juniors are able to drive, it doesn’t discount that many will either not feel comfortable going that far, or may not want to pay for gas both ways. Especially as gas prices have been high recently, driving for 50 minutes, at a minimum, still may present a challenge for students. If students don’t want to drive, or can’t, the options are far more limited. Even using Uber or public transportation will still be costly, and may be a less reliable and safe option.  

While of course I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a prom experience, there are things Park can do to make it a more equitable experience. I know that in past years, Park has provided transportation and busing to students. Especially since the venue is so far, that could have been a reasonable solution. Furthermore, since the cost of outfits and tickets adds up, Park could invest in providing options and funds for students who can’t afford that, or have former students donate their dresses for reuse to students. Everyone should get the chance to have a memorable prom experience, regardless of cost or other factors.