The students were given a voucher that will allow them to enter the General Admission doors first when they open at 3:45 p.m. Saturday for the IU vs. Kentucky men’s basketball game at 5:15 p.m.
“We had to draw a very fine distinction to make sure that these students who were out there were adequately recognized for what they were doing and because these are some of the most hardcore fans we have, and they deserve to be up front,” said IU Student Association President Justin Kingsolver.
The policy was drawn up by Kingsolver in cooperation with University officials and IU Athletics. IUSA Vice President of Administration Kevin Courtney said the policy is one that was designed for the students.
“I think we have a nice solution, especially for how quickly we’ve come up with an interim policy,” Courtney said. “I think the students, and coming from a student perspective, will be happy with the end result for the Saturday game.
“Luckily for the students already camping out, they didn’t lose anything, and they got vouchers for their time, which was extremely generous on the athletic department’s side.”
While the students had different motives from the current Occupy Bloomington movement, the campus policy was the same for both parties.
However, Occupy Bloomington is not taking place on University property, which meant allowing students to set up tents on campus would allow Occupy Bloomington participants to follow suit.
“We didn’t just want to say, ‘Yes, you can camp,’” Kingsolver said. “I would love to say that, but that’s very hard to restrict that to just the athletic facilities. If we would’ve said, ‘Yes, you can camp,’ that would’ve also extended to all the Occupy Wall Street people, and they could’ve camped anywhere on campus.”
In addition to the current Occupy movement factoring into the new policy, academics played a part. Encouraging students to forgo important classes and studies was not a measure they could endorse, Courtney said.
“Having students have to camp out all week, miss class time and potentially miss study time for their finals next week is not something that anybody within the University and most students would want to do,” Courtney said. “I thought it was pretty unfair that students would have to choose between sleeping and studying for finals or waiting in tents in the cold for the game on Saturday.”
Plus, a bunch of tired students would not create the atmosphere hoped for at Saturday’s game, Courtney said.
“Students will be able to be rested for the actual game, which is one thing the athletic department pointed out that I thought was a great point,” Courtney said. “If students are out there all week, they most likely are not going to feel that great and that spirited come game time.”
Courtney said all parties have looked into the policies by other schools, and the one in place for Saturday could become a permanent option. For those without a voucher and seats in General Admission, lining up can begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday. However, students will not be allowed to remain in line until then.
It’s a situation that went from a dire display of fandom to a campus controversy and concluded with a new policy. But at the end of the day, Kingsolver said the situation is a win.
“In the grand scheme of things, yes, this is a problem,” Kingsolver said. “But this is probably the best problem we’ve had this year.”
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