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USC Rules on Student Seating

September 26, 2006|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Responding to controversy and a hazardous situation that resulted from its decision to reduce student seating at home football games this season, USC announced late Monday several changes in policy, including the opportunity for the entire undergraduate student population to purchase reserved seats for the 2007-08 season.

Last week, students vented their anger at administrators over changes that resulted in a crush of bodies outside the Coliseum before the Sept. 16 game against Nebraska. The university had sold 12,000 spirit cards, which allow entrance and non-reserved, general admission seating to various sporting events, but reduced the number of student seats from 12,000 to 8,000.

More than 9,000 card-holders jammed the entrance to Gate 28. There were reports of minor injuries and at least one arrest.

Administrators said they discussed the change with student government last spring but students were not informed until the week of the game.

In a letter that will be published in today's edition of the campus newspaper, Michael Jackson, USC's vice president for student affairs, apologized to students who were turned away at the gate or had problems entering the Coliseum.

"We did not plan well; we did not communicate well; we did not seek student advice to the degree that we needed to," Jackson wrote. "But we have learned some important lessons that will be put to good use in the immediate future. The university has been rightly criticized for its actions and is addressing the grievances and concerns expressed by students, alumni, and parents."

In the letter, Jackson said that:

* 16,400 seats, the approximate number of undergraduates, will be available for student-priority purchase beginning in spring 2007 at $135 per season ticket. Tickets not purchased during the exclusive sale period will be made available to students and the general public.

* The need to purchase a spirit card as a means of gaining seats at games will be eliminated.

* With the change from general admission to reserved seating, USC is exploring several options that would allow students to sit with friends.

* For this season, the student ticket allotment will increase to 9,200. The school is continuing to work with the fire marshal and Coliseum management to add standing-room only spots if needed.

* There will be a plan to allow easier entry at the student gate, to open 2 1/2 hours before kickoff.

Brian Braunlich, a junior who serves as the director of university affairs for USC's undergraduate student government, welcomed the changes.

"I think it's great they are guaranteeing a seat to every student who wants to go to the game next season," he said. "But I'm going to keep an eye out to see what happens the rest of this year."

gary.klein@latimes.com

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