Objective criteria key for seating

Our View

 

When students bought their tickets for this fall’s football season, each one paid $5. They all applied through the same process and got their tickets in order of credit hours.  Determining who gets dibs on tickets by credit hours is almost universally accepted as fair – it’s how class registration works.

Once students buy tickets, though, the criteria for who sits where become less concrete. Every year, the Student Government Association decides which organizations sit where in block seating, and every year the criteria change.

Historically, the conflict has been between greek students, who have always dominated block seating, and non-greek students.

The issue with Student Organization Seating, however, is not that it is predominantly greek. It’s that the system is inherently inconsistent and unfair. Organizations are ranked by whatever arbitrary system the SGA decides to come up with that year.

This year, there was a proposal to make diversity a component of the ranking system. However progressive or noble this gesture may seem, however, it is difficult to measure or judge. No two groups are the same, and diversity in Student Organization Seating is as much about a mix of different types of groups as it is about groups that meet demographic quotas of diversity. Even attempts to diversify the section are arbitrary and unfair.

With every other aspect of seating in Bryant-Denny Stadium, students go through Alabama Athletics. The procedure for allocating student tickets is done with student input, but overseen by Athletics. They determine how many seats students get in the stadium and where all students – be they in institutions or not – sit.

Alabama Athletics, as evidenced by the success of almost every sports team, runs like a well-oiled machine. The SGA runs like a car that must be rebuilt from the ground up every year. Why does the role Athletics plays stop once every ticket is sold for the student section – both block seats and individual seats?

With another group in charge of allocation, the process would remain more consistent from year to year. Rules would be in place and would be followed. Handbooks to determine the process would be read, followed and available at meetings of the committee that allocates seats, unlike what happened this week with the SGA. No Alabama football player would ever show up to a practice without a playbook, but every committee member showed up to the meeting Tuesday night without the committee’s handbook – the only written documentation of Student Organization Seating procedures.

At other schools, reserved seating is often determined through a consistent and transparent process that every student understands. At Auburn University, one section in the front of their block seating section is reserved for students – regardless of their greek affiliation, honors college status, race or gender – who rack up the most spirit points by going to athletic events, pep rallies and other events listed on the Auburn SGA’s website. Even organizations get placed based on spirit points, making the process much more transparent and giving groups something concrete to work toward.

While other schools have created objective criteria to determine student seating arrangements, the University endorses a subjective, inconsistent system where a select few officials develop rules on the fly that affect the game day experience of thousands of students.

This isn’t an issue of greek versus non-greek. It’s an issue of fairness. Any policy not governed by clear and consistent rules can never be fair.

 

Our View is the consensus of the Crimson White’s editorial board. Opinions Editor Tray Smith did not participate in this editorial.