The University of Wisconsin’s student government held a forum Thursday focusing on changes in student section enforcement policies and the recent increase in the number of student ejections at football games.
The Associated Students of Madison Shared Governance Committee hosted Ben Fraser, director of guest services for UW Athletics, to speak at the forum. Fraser addressed the athletic department’s primary concerns with the student section policies, including informing students of policies, overcrowding, student ejections and turning away students with valid tickets.
Shared Governance Chair Sam Seering said the recent concerns about the increased number of ejections are the result of a change of enforcement, not a change in policy itself.
Seering said students do not always sit in their assigned section, row or seat. Thus, the more popular student sections, like Section O, are becoming overcrowded and people with tickets for that particular section are being turned away because there is not enough room, he said.
ASM Press Office Director David Gardner said many people purchase general seating tickets, but move into the student section. He said this is something that also contributes to overcrowding and student ejections from the game.
“This is a disappointing situation,” Gardner said. “Students haven’t been ejected in numbers this high in a while, and the students received no warning regarding the new enforcement.”
Gardner added Fraser was reluctant to answer questions regarding the new enforcement policies at the forum, but students were given the opportunity to voice their opinions.
Gardner said it may be helpful to implement a rewards system in which students could accumulate points for things like getting to the game early or sitting in the correct section. He said students would then be able to use these points to receive free food or apparel at the stadium.
Seering said some students at the forum suggested the athletic department develop a color-coding system for tickets or remove the specific seat number on the ticket in order to facilitate enforcement.
“Students are in the middle of this conflict,” Seering said. “They know authorities need to maintain order, but they also want a new policy or a new approach to solving the problem. My hope is that these students’ ideas are taken into consideration.”
Gardner said one of his main concerns is the fact students were not asked for any input before these changes were made. He added it is a principle of shared governance to have students be consulted before decisions are made that will inevitably affect them.
Gardner said he hopes when they form policies in the future, the athletic department includes the Shared Governance Committee. He said with this, he also hopes they eventually provide a solidified way of resolving issues.
“Students were not a part of the process of making this decision,” Gardner said. “It’s disappointing for students because the athletic department isn’t supporting shared governance. My only hope is they include students in the future because I think that they really can provide a unique and helpful perspective.”