Bumped. The petition drive to get students back on the sidelines now has generated over 700 signatures. Bravo to everyone. If you have not signed it yet, Sign the petition today. Please sign it and pass it on to every Bruin student and alum you know. - BN Eds.
In the past week, spearheading the online petition to return students to Pauley Pavilion court side seats, I've learned a great deal about people and passion. One thing I've learned is how little people know about what is happening. In my approximation most season ticket holders go about their daily business and will either renew their season tickets or not based on whether the team is playing well. The year before last we experienced one of the most dismal seasons in UCLA basketball history, consequentially this last season we experienced some of lowest attendance numbers in the history of UCLA basketball.
When I have had the opportunity to speak to season ticket holders about the current Morgan Center decision to remove students from the Pauley Pavilion sidelines; I usually receive a standard response: "They are?" and "Why?" At which point I will go into a long winded description of that everything that is happening.
I don't think a clear concise history has been made publicly available. I've often heard the complaint that students allowed this to happen, or somehow deserve this. I've come to learn that is far from the truth. It is because of this that I will launch into a sordid history of everything that has happened in the past 5 or 6 months.
Follow me after the jump.May 11th 2009 announces formal plans for the Pauley Pavilion renovation.
July 1st 2009 Delivery of personalized Bruin Priority Point Program and the Pauley Pavilion Seating Plan for Men’s basketball. ~ COC seating guide.
Feb 9th 2010 BN publishes a fan post questioning why the students are not facing the Television Cameras. Among the comments a link to the COC seating guide is made available. The seating guide illustrates a Student Section that runs an entire sideline and one end zone forming the "L" shape we are demanding.
April 4th 2010 The LA Times reports UCLA will use some monies generated by student fees for the Pauley Pavilion Renovation.
May 11th 2010 UCLA breaks ground on Pauley Pavilion renovation
Dec. 2010 UCLA Athletics conducts a survey of student attendance factors. No mention is made of Morgan Center plans to move student seating behind the East Basket. A single question on the matter asks, "Do you think Pauley split seating (student seats on floor and upper level seperated by mid-level public seating) interferes with the effectiveness of the student section? " Shortly thereafter the decision is made to move the students away from the sideline and to the area behind the East Basket.
Jan 4th 2011 a meeting is held between Den leadership and UCLA Athletics wherein the Den leaders are asked between the area behind the East Basket or split into 3 separate student sections. This meeting was described to me as "choosing our own method of execution." No alternatives were provided. The students are forced into making the best out of a bad situation.
Jan 19th 2011 UCLA Athletics announces it will cut donation levels for season tickets. This is explained as "due to the enormous generosity of hundreds of donors during our Campaign of Champions."
Feb 15th 2011 USAC is approached by Mark Harlan and the issue of adding seats to the student section is raised. No mention is made of Morgan Center plans to remove the "L" shaped student section. The promise of added Student Seating is what garners the USAC approval of the Morgan Center decision.
March 30th 2011 UCLA Athletics announces student seats have been moved behind the East basket. Within the press release are the following statements:
This email was sent to the members of the The Den, UCLA's student athletic support group, to announce decisions made after a survey of the The Den members and several months of working with various campus student and non-student groups. The changes are designed to enhance the student experience at UCLA athletic events.
The Morgan Center further validates it's decision by stating:
To fully examine the survey findings and the resulting decisions, the Athletic Department worked in cooperation with the Undergraduate Students Association Council, (USAC), specifically . . . . President Jasmine Hill. She, along with fellow council members helped to identify and establish student focus groups that enabled us to vet ideas and concepts. We also discussed potential changes with The Den student leadership, Wooden Center Board of Governors, ASUCLA staff leadership, cheer and Band leadership, and the Rally committee.
The Morgan Center claims sound spurious at best. Note that only Jasmine Hill is named specifically, and her decision was made based on a deceptive promise to add student seating.
April 3rd 2011 students and alumni begin voicing opposition on UCLA Athletics' Facebook page. Critical comments are deleted immediately. Facing an avalanche of criticism, the UCLA Athletics Facebook page is unable to keep up with the number of critical comments and stops deleting them. Instead comments are allowed to remain with critical comments rebutted by the same spurious claims detailed above.
April 3rd 2011 The Daily Bruin publishes a story about the decision to move the student section to the area behind the East basket, and essentially repeats the UCLA Athletics claims detailed above. The Daily Bruin begins receiving critical comments on this page and in short order, the page either crashes or is shut down by it's operators. No dissenting comments are allowed to remain.
April 6th 2011 The UCLA Athletics Facebook page is reconfigured so that only comments posted by the page's owner are immediately available to the general public. An individual would have to reconfigure their own settings to see the critical comments being made.
April 23rd A small number of students and this writer attend the UCLA Football Scrimmage Game at Drake Stadium with petitions in hand, demanding Morgan Center reverse it's decision to remove the "L" shaped Student Section. We are met by an agitated Ken Weiner, Senior Associate Athletic Director, who momentarily attempts to prevent us from talking to Fans, Students, and Alumni about the Morgan Center Decision. Most attendees we speak to have no idea about the decision made to remove the students from the Pauley Pavilion sideline.
April 28th USAC votes to add an advisory vote to next weeks ballot addressing the relocation of the Student Section to the area behind the East Basket.
(I have done the best to my ability to ascertain the exact dates of the events described above. I have no doubt UCLA Athletics will dispute the veracity of the conversations between the Morgan Center and various student groups as I have reported above. I have received enough assurances from those students I am in contact with, and who wish to remain anonymous, the events I have described are true.)