Block seating suspended at UA home opener - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Block seating suspended at UA home opener

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The SGA suspended block seating for Alabama's home opener against Colorado State, Saturday, September 21, 2013. The SGA suspended block seating for Alabama's home opener against Colorado State, Saturday, September 21, 2013.

University of Alabama students had a different atmosphere when the Crimson Tide played the first home game of the season Saturday.  The Student Government Association suspended block seating for this game, in light of the recent racial controversy.  SGA representatives say it's not a form of punishment, but instead a way to show support for one another.

The issue arose on campus when an African-American student was refused a bid to a white sorority.  Since then, students and faculty held a demonstration, demanding the university create policy to discourage discrimination.  The university focused on the Greek system and required the Panhellic sororities to diversify and extend additional bids to minorities.  Friday, UA announced four black and two other minority students accepted invitations into sororities.  UA President Judy Bonner says other women are still considering accepting bids.  She says the process of open continuous bidding will continue and the numbers should increase over the next few weeks.

The decision to suspend block seating came with a lot of mixed feedback, according to SGA Media Relations Director Leela Foley.  She explains the process of block seating as a scoring.  Foley says any student organization can apply for seating.  The SGA sends off the information to a third party source for scoring.  The scores are based on the organization's volunteer work, grade point average, among other things.  "everyone's graded the same, so any organization has just a good a chance to have the coveted seats as any other," said Foley.  The block seating is a reward for what student organizations contribute to the university.

The most coveted seats are behind the end zone.  Typically, fraternities get those spots reserved for themselves and their sorority member dates.  However, Foley says the honor societies and the law school organizations have also snagged the seats in recent years.

As it stands, every student ticket costs the same amount.  No ticket is different than any other.  UA student Zachary Canat is against having organizations section off stadium seats.  "I don't agree with it.  You should be able to sit wherever you want," said Canat.  However, Jematric Curry believes the block seating creates a better game day atmosphere.  Curry thinks sitting with friends allows fans to be themselves and let loose, which means more cheering and shouting for the home team.

Curry understands and supports the SGA decision to suspend block seating for the home opener as a way to make a statement to the student body.  However, he hopes the block seating continues, even though he doesn't sit with a particular organization.  He says there's not an issue of race on the campus.  "I walk this campus daily and I see every race pretty much uniting and trying to mingle."

SGA President Jimmy Taylor made the decision for block seating.  He's been quoted as saying, "as we grow bigger as a university, we also need to grow better."  The SGA is organizing a forum to talk about this and other issues on campus.   The forum will be called "the Elephant in the Room."  No date has been set for the meeting.  Foley says the SGA hopes to get the participation of several different minority organizations to participate.

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