Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Unity initiative shelved by officals

In an attempt to unify the student body after the April 27 tornado abruptly put an end to the spring semester, members of the SGA Student Organization Seating Committee discussed doing away with block seating for the first home game against Kent State, according to emails obtained by The Crimson White.

On July 28, committee chair Mckenzie Jones explained the plan, which he labeled “Tide Together,” to other committee members.

“It would convey the message to the outside world that, despite the April tragedy that hit our community, we are still ‘Tide Together’ in our support of Tuscaloosa, the University, and all of the programs of the University, and of course football,” Jones said in the email. “… this is about us all coming together, remembering those who died and being mindful of the work that still needs to be done.”

Jones reiterated that plan in a later email, sent Aug. 1. “The student body needs to understand there is no organizational seating for the first game,” he said.

But after discussing Tide Together with “various UA and SGA officials,” Jones wrote in an Aug.15 email to committee members that “We should go forward planning to implement seating starting with the Kent State game.”

On Aug. 27, Student Government Association Communications Director Seth Morrow said Tide Together was a separate project that never involved the seating committee.

“SGA never considered incorporating that event into the seating process,” Morrow said.

On Aug. 28, Morrow confirmed the block seating committee had discussed the event. “After discussions with SGA officials, UA administrators and athletics, it was decided that Tide Together would best achieve its goals through collaboration outside of the seating committee,” he said.

When asked how the initiative would work outside of the committee’s jurisdiction, SGA press secretary Katie O’Laughlin responded with an email stating, “SGA has no knowledge of any plans for Tide Together. Tide Together was never an SGA initiative.”

“The Tide Together idea that I had proposed was technically shot down,” Jones said at a committee meeting Tuesday night.

“At the end of the day, the administration, the athletic department, everybody [is] expecting block seating at the end of the week, and this is what we’re going to have to go with,” he said later.

The administration also reversed Jones on the deadline by which organizations would have to complete their application for block seating. “I think we should stand firm on Aug. 31 as the real and only deadline,” he wrote committee members on July 29. That would have given organizations a week and half after school started to complete their applications.

Instead, the application deadline was set last Friday, giving student organizations three school days. “[Faculty block seating advisor] Darrell Hargreaves advised me that the deadline for the application needed to be on Aug. 26 and that we as a committee should meet prior to the Kent State game,” Jones wrote on Aug. 1. “I was a little disappointed that we could not have the entire month of August for the completion of the application.”

Hargreaves said the committee is a student-run organization, but he advised them to keep that deadline in order to remain consistent with previous years. He also said he wasn’t aware of any rule that would have prevented Tide Together from happening.

“I don’t know the full schematic of rules and things like that,” Hargreaves said. “It is the student section, so all I do is advise that committee.”

Hargreaves said blocks are reserved for organizations until either the lower bowl is full or there is less than 45 minutes before kick off. When asked if students could be physically removed from or penalized for sitting in a block reserved for an organization they don’t belong to, Hargreaves said, “I would think that the student would just cooperate by way of a professional or committee member asking them.”

Hargreaves did not specify what would happen if a student absolutely refused to move. “I don’t know why you would ask that,” he said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

After speaking to other members of the University administration and reviewing the code of student conduct, The Crimson White still has not been able to identify any penalty for students who sit in blocks reserved for other organizations.

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