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

Student leaders voice frustration with block seating

SGA senators and student organization heads gathered Wednesday night to discuss their opinions, experiences and grievances with block seating and the block seating application process.

The Student Organization Seating Opinion Forum was organized and monitored by the SOURCE.

Michael Forst, Director of Outreach for the SOURCE, said an email was sent to all updated student groups as an open invitation.

“As an advocate for all student groups, the SOURCE is committed to ensuring [their] voices are heard and valued throughout the Student Organizational Seating process,” Forst said.

Robert Herron, President of UA’s Exercise Physiology Club, started the discussion.

According to Herron, they worked hard to get their block seating application turned in on time –- and never received an answer.

“The process was a little last minute. We turned in our application — never heard anything back. We found out we didn’t get it via The Crimson White,” Herron said. “We finally got a response saying that our application wasn’t even reviewed because a signature was missing somewhere.”

An SGA official later called Herron at 10 p.m. the Friday before kickoff and informed him the club would have seating after all. Herron says, when he arrived at the game, the club had eight seats allotted in the upper deck.

“We may have missed something [on the application], but we probably will never know. We’ve asked for a copy to look it over but haven’t received it,” Herron said.

Sarah Hughes, President of the Honors College Assembly, also ran into a problem with signatures on her SOS application. Needing GPA information on their members for the application, the HCA sent out a survey for members to fill out.

“We were told by one of the committee members that the time stamp on their surveys could be used as a legitimate signature,” Hughes said. “We sent it out to 600 students, including incoming freshmen. On Thursday afternoon, we got a call that digital signatures wouldn’t be accepted.”

Hughes was told two days before the first home game that HCA would have to obtain written signatures from all members or they would lose their block seating.

“We scrambled to do that Thursday night and all day Friday. I sent out an e-mail to everyone saying we won’t get seating if you don’t come sign,” Hughes said.

HCA was able to obtain enough signatures and was eventually allotted 280 seats, which Hughes said she was pleased with and believes an organization the size of HCA deserves.

However, she believes they would not have been able to get the amount of signatures they needed without HCA’s specific infrastructure and that SGA should have accepted the initial digital signatures.

“I understand that if we didn’t have the infrastructure in place to contact our members, it could have been a disaster,” Hughes said. “By Alabama state law, digital signatures are accepted as regular signatures.”

Both organization heads believe the application process needs to be reorganized, in addition to set rules and regulations being put in place.

“I think the application process needs to be something put together before students leave in the spring. Why not meet in April? Let us know well before the season starts, so people can make plans,” Herron said. “I’d actually like to have it now. If I’m going to have to record member information, it would be easier to know what I need the whole year. It’s hard to put things together at the last minute.”

“The format of the application was not clear. We just had to do our best,” Hughes said. “Rules need to be given so there isn’t last minute confusion. I don’t even know if rules exist right now, because they’ve been requested, but we haven’t seen them.”

Herron was careful to note that he understands that the SOS application process is complicated, and that some people are going to come away angry, but that changes are still needed.

“You can’t make everyone happy. But some things are so easily taken care of. If I was not involved at this at all and looking at this objectively, I’d still think it was messed up,” he said. “Some of the backlash was vicious and stupid, but the perception of the issue is embarrassing. If everyone thinks it’s crooked, it’s going to always be viewed like that — unless you put the process out in the open.”

Hughes agreed.

“Rules should be given out when the application is given out –- the committee should be clear on them, and the organizations should be clear on them,” she said. “There has to be something regulating this process, or else you can just make up something.”

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