University: Student section problems require overhaul
USC will consider an assigned seating system for its student section in 2012 after dozens of issues during the first two home games.
Under the new proposal, TicketReturn —USC’s online lottery system for student tickets — will still exist for deciding who receives tickets for each game.
But students who win tickets will claim assigned seats at a yet to be determined location, said Jerry Brewer, USC’s associate vice president for student affairs. Students who arrive together to pick up tickets can sit together, Brewer said.
With an assigned seating plan, officials could better control who was in the student section and monitor issues that arise, Brewer said. He said no changes will come this year, and other administrators and law enforcement personnel will have input before final decisions are made for the 2012 season.
“I don’t see how we can continue doing things this way,” Brewer said. “It’s just not working.”
But several students interviewed about the plan blasted it Tuesday afternoon, saying it would create chaos and become a logistical nightmare. On social media, students criticized the changes en masse, calling it “dumb,” “a horrible idea” and the “stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” Others said it would “ruin games” and become “a joke.” Some complained about how coordinating weekday schedules to pick up tickets with friends would be nearly impossible.
But USC officials say the status quo cannot continue.
Problems in the student section escalated during the Vanderbilt game, as a horde of students clutching their student tickets flocked to Gate 26 just before kickoff Saturday.
Attendants at the gate said there were no more wristbands — the key component to getting past layers of security into the lower bowl of the student section.
The gate was soon closed, and students were told to look for wristbands at another gate. There were none.
Another gate, same story. No wristbands, no entry into the lower bowl. Eventually, the students who earned admittance into the lower bowl were told to enter through gate 18, ascend into the upper deck and sit in assigned seats. Many became upset, telling personnel they had a ticket to sit in the lower bowl with friends.
“I’ve yet to have anyone explain them to me why people are getting wrist ticks who aren’t supposed to have them,” Brewer said. “It just doesn’t make sense, but it’s happening.”
Brewer said USC officials offer about 9,000 lower bowl tickets and, accordingly, buy 9,000 wristbands. But students without tickets for the lower gate — and some non-students who just sneak into the sections for the dynamic atmosphere — are given wristbands against policy.
Others don’t have wristbands at all.
By game’s end, USC’s Division of Law Enforcement and Safety had escorted 196 people out of the stadium, most for not having a wristband in the lower bowl of the stadium, said Capt. Eric Grabski. And those are just problems in the stands.
At the gate, there were dozens of other conflicts between attendants and students,
“We’ve created an environment where people are just abusive to each other,” Brewer said.
Brewer said the current ticketing system was “as loose structurally as it could be.”
He attributes the increased problems to more demand for student tickets and a football team ranked in the Top-10.