#SFatPauley: Et tu Den Leader? How UCLA’s Student "Leaders" Sold Out the Student Body

As some of you have seen, there’s been a recent post by bk bruin, speaking out in favor of Dear Leader Dan Guerrero’s wonderful and generous plan to take the students’ seats away from the sideline and give them all seats behind the baseline.  While I appreciate that the Den "Leader" has taken the time to lay out his/her thoughts on why the wonderful overlords at Morgan Center have given us this generous gift with the new student section at the new Pauley Pavilion, I think a response is needed to such obviously inaccurate assertions and faulty assumptions.

bk bruin doesn’t start off very well:

Most arguments against the manner have been based on an immediate emotional response to a decision that took over 8 months to make. I have read many of the posts and comments over the first 48 hours, and got so overwhelmed that I deemed in necessary to post as someone with knowledge and influence on the actual decision.

No, it’s not an emotional response It’s a logical, intellectual response to a proposal that is so ludicrously stupid, we, as Bruins, cannot help but respond. Thank you, oh wise Den Leader for telling me how I think and respond, I’d never know what to do without you.  And BTW, does he/she really think one needs to have inside "knowledge and influence" to understand whether this is a wise decision or not?  It’s comical that he/she thinks because he/she was  in on the "decision-making process" that he/she was in a better position to assess the merits of this proposal. First, that sells every alumni who posts here or who has posted on Facebook short.  I won’t even get into how stupid or short-sighted that is.  Second, one may have had meetings and conversations with folks in Morgan Center but if a student actually think he or she had any real say or influence on the decision, that student "leader" is flat-out delusional.  Morgan Center has been raining on students’ parades before bk bruin was even a sperm cell: this kind of decision was made and bk bruin, the Den, and USAC were used like a cheap condom so that Morgan Center could pass this weak-sauce horseshit plan on to the student body and get away with it.

Let's keep walking through this non-sense after the jump.

I am also posting as a student on behalf of the students because this blog has had a history of ripping students and/or generalizing what they think.

Let’s direct this next part directly to bk bruin: no you’re not.  Is this the narrative that Morgan Center wants you and your USAC chums to advance? First, if you don’t like BN, don’t come here: no one is making you visit this community.  If you don’t like what you see, leave.  Second, we have called out students when it has been justified: I know Nestor has told you the same.

More importantly, you are not the voice of the student body.  You aren’t speaking "on behalf of the students" because I keep seeing comment after comment on Morgan Center’s Facebook page from CURRENT STUDENTS who are disgruntled at the plan that you and your Morgan Center buddies have come up with. Never mind that gbruin broke down how other students at BN have blasted this idiotic plan.

In fact, as gbruin noted, other students, who apparently participated in the same process as bk bruin aren't circling the wagons for Morgan Center.  First, Bruin Kid:

So you know how...a few months ago I had posted a comment about how the Campaign of Champions site was wrong with respect to the student seating arrangement? This is what I was talking about. Yeah, we had a meeting about this. But it wasn't like this was what we WANTED.

But it was either behind the basket, or another seating arrangement that you'd find even MORE distasteful for the students. Those were the only two options we were given. So we took the less crappy plan.

Followed by another student just graduated alum, lil eg not cs:

This was resolved about a year and a half ago some of us, by us I mean the den president and I, were invited to a focus group about the renovation. We were led to believe that the student seating would remain the same along with adding seats behind the basket. That's the way it should be.

And as a current member of the Den (westsidebruin26) noted:

I am absolutely appalled by the stupidity of the administration to do such a thing. First off, yes the survey was completely misleading in that it simply asked students if they wanted to be grouped together. No where did it ask if we agreed to give up our sideline seats for bogus seats behind the basket where we have absolutely ZERO influence over the game. I would rather be in the upper level when the sidelines filled up, at least they were dead center.

After witnessing the great crowds towards the end of the season, well all the pac 10 games, I thought Dan G would want to capitalize on the amount of support students were willing to give. I am so glad I am a junior so that I don't have to witness the epic fail of the student section after next season. Students need to boycott this and not let the football tickets influence our decision to get a den pass.

Oh, I know, your "survey" says over 80% of current students polled want a unified student section!  That’s intellectually dishonest and as a Bruin, you should be ashamed. And don't even try saying USAC is the voice of the students.  With 20% to 30% voter turnout, USAC isn't representing a majority of UCLA's current students either, so spare me that also.

So which is it, bk bruin, are you now shilling for Morgan Center or just covering up the fact that you got played like a chump by Dan G. and his goons?

Let’s break down more of this contradictory reasoning.  First, bk bruin says this:

In my first two years as a student, we reached the Final Four in both years. The student section was packed for every game, even the preseason and pre-Pac 10 games. Students were excited to be there, were very involved in the game, and created an unstoppable environment. Since the Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook break-out season, student attendance has dramatically dropped.

But he/she ultimately conclude that the reason for student attendance taking a nose-dive is:

But nowadays, most students that come to UCLA aren’t like me. They choose UCLA for its academic excellence, and with that in mind, sports come second to that. But you can’t really argue with them. It is a point that we often stress with our athletes being students first and foremost, and likewise, students here should be academically sound before the even consider attending athletic events.

Wow, that’s amazing: so during his/her brief 5 year stint at UCLA, there was some amazing shift in student admissions that caused the student section at basketball games to go from a packed, crazy, excited "unstoppable environment" to a dull, listless drag with empty seats because UCLA students were too busy using their calculators and writing term papers.

Not only is bk bruin’s theory fundamentally flawed (in a hilariously obvious way since he/she, himself/herself, points out how student attendance and the energy wasn’t a problem only a few seasons ago), but it also is insulting to alums. It assumes that the current students are more academically inclined/intelligent/attuned to their studies than Bruins in the past. 

That’s simply not true.  I’m a recent alum (graduated in the mid-2000s), so first, I seriously doubt the student body has shifted in the intervening 5+ years since my graduation.  Second, even older alums, like from the 1990s, were on par (if not more academically inclined) than the current students.  For example, in the early 90s (1990, 1991, 1992), UCLA’s ranking in the U.S. News (which I think we all agree is fundamentally flawed, but let’s use it as a measuring stick for this purpose) was higher than it is now.  In fact, I know that the freshman class in 1991 was pretty much the cream of the crop: over 90% of that class (which ended up being the UCLA Classes of 1995 and 1996) were from the top ten percentile of their respective high school classes.  So spare me the whole "current UCLA students are only academics/are more intelligent/more in touch with the academic side of the university" BS argument.  UCLA students have been the best and brightest California (and the nation) have to offer for decades.  There hasn’t been some major shift in student admissions.  It’s just another lame BS excuse offered up by apologists to explain away a lackluster and apathetic student body.

The next problems with the current student section are the spread-out nature of the floor-level seating and the split sections. If you have recently attended a basketball game, you probably noticed how horrible the students sound on offense. A cheer like "UC-LA" and "Let’s Go Bruins" seems simple enough, but with how spread out the section is, these cheers become quickly out of synch and rushed. A chant starting on one end breaks down by the time it gets to the band.

No it’s not. Perfect example: Michigan State.  As Go Bruinz pointed out, Michigan State has, according to Sports Illustrated, a top-5 student section.  They also have an elite program and an intimidating home atmosphere, something the Bruins seem to struggle to achieve consistently (can we trade Izzo and their student section leaders for Howland and whatever goofballs are leading the Den?).  The Spartans have divided seating: 1,500 students in the lower section on the floor, lining three-quarters of the floor (i.e. sidelines!) with another 2,500 students in the upper sections. In other words, the original new Pauley plan followed the Michigan State modelThe Izzone has no problem rocking the house.  So yeah, that’s a lame excuse offered up by bk bruin.

The popular misconception on BN about this survey is that it was the sole basis for the decision to move the students into a unified section.

Umm, wrong again: since bk bruin doesn’t read the press releases about the student section he/she is gushing about, let me quote the chumps at Morgan Center:

"We surveyed over 7,000 members of `The Den' regarding several subjects and they gave us some outstanding feedback on ways to enhance the student experience at our events," said Mark Harlan, UCLA Senior Associate Athletic Director - External Affairs. "One thing that became very clear is that students want to be together and have some fun. Over 82 percent desired a seating area that gave them unity and the ability to help give our teams the home court advantage they deserve."

Let me repeat this real slow so everyone can get it: Morgan Center acknowledged in their own press release that the student survey with one misleading question was a major (if not the most significant) factor in their decision to move the students into a unified section behind the basket.  Naturally, I tend to disbelieve all the BS that comes from Morgan Center: I personally think they used these student "leaders" to advance their own agenda and floated this survey out there to justify it.  Or, as Class of 66 more eloquently put it:

The seat grab is being justified by reference to a "survey" that reeks of academic misconduct — the kind of phony research that besmirches the reputation of any academic institution that tolerates it.

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

What’s particularly amusing is the sentence that follows shortly after in bk bruin’s rambling contradictory "defense" of Morgan Center:

Was it ever a viable option to put the students at midcourt and go to the rafters?

My short answer: yes.  But because I’ve been busy shredding this nonsense for a while, I’m going to let Class of 66 do the heavy lifting on this point:

I, for one, an alum who sat in season tickets in Pauley for many, many years, had hoped that the renovation would bring back student seating along the sidelines -- the way it was when Pauley opened -- as a way of enhancing the student experience AND creating the type of crowd atmosphere our student/athletes deserve. They should be playing for their peers -- enjoyed by their peers, bonding with their peers, sharing a student experience with their fellow students.

Pauley opened when I was a student. The student section went from the court straight up on the Sunset side of the floor. The section was cohesive and spirited.

At the same time, we played football in the Coliseum. The students held a sizable portion of the yard line seats -- they were not crunched between the end zone and the 10 yard line. Once more, we rocked the joint.

In other words, when UCLA was, you know, really f**king good, we had student seating on an entire sideline.  When Coach was in charge, students had prime real estate.  So, bk bruin, yeah it is viable and yes, it did happen.  Oh, and since you’re part of this generation of students who is all into academics only, we were pretty good back in the late 60s and 70s.  Just a little FYI.

Moving on:

Would you, alumni, want to give up your 50 yard line seats so that students have a "greater influence" on the game? I highly doubt that!

Hahahahahahaha.  As an alumni, let me answer that question: YES! YES! YES! I would do whatever it took to give UCLA an advantage (within the NCAA rules of course) to help my Bruins win.  I’d rather have a crappier seat and see UCLA win than a great seat and watch us lose.  Besides, I had my time down in the Den on the floor when I was a student: it’s the students’ time to have it now.

Moreover, in case you missed it, Morgan Center’s Facebook page is getting blown up by alumni who are furious that the students are getting shoved off to the baseline.  So, yeah, alumni are willing to sacrifice to make the atmosphere at Pauley the way it should be: with students rocking the sidelines and bringing the noise.

Next gem:

Why did it take another 3 months to come out with this "new" seating chart? That’s because the Morgan Center did their due diligence! They met with The Den, USAC, and many other focus groups of the course of several months. The decision to change the location of students was by no means only their choice during a short time frame.

Umm, that’s easy: because as they have demonstrated over time (Steve Lavin, Karl Dorrell, the whole Rocky Seto near-hire, losing Caldwell to LSU, terrible facilities at Jackie Robinson Stadium, the joke of finding a search for a temporary home for UCLA basketball next year, Guerrero too busy making UPS commercials instead of standing up for Caldwell’s team getting hosed by the NCAA in this year’s tournament, etc.), Morgan Center is full of incompetent morons.  They are stupid.  It took them time to come up with some BS way to pass this BS plan on to the student body.  That’s where bk bruin and his lackeys in the Den and USAC came in: they got used like patsies to make it seem like it’s all on the up-and-up and this is what students want.

I mean, what the hell is going on with UCLA’s Political Science Department?  Don’t they teach these kids how the political game is played?  You just don’t screw over a segment of the voting population out of the gate: first, you make them feel like they were included in the decision and that the decision screwing them over was actually one they wanted and made. Facepalm.

The positives to this change are very obvious!

If you put an exclamation point on something, it makes it more true!

Students in the back can be coordinated with the students in the front because they just need to look straight forward. All cheers will be in unison. All students will be standing during the game or get your view blocked (a harsh punishment indeed). For small games, it will be better to have 600 students in one place rather than 400 on the bottom and 200 in the top. For large games, there will be 1900 strong with no loss of extra seats to special parties.

What’s particularly funny about this is that first, bk bruin asserts that current students are more into academics (and thus, more intelligent than previous students), but then tells us that these super-intellects that are now Bruins have to see the person in front of them to be able to coordinate their cheers.  Now I understand why all those kids in China, Japan, etc. are surpassing American students.

You know what’s better than having 600 to 1900 students in one place?

The Swamp. 2,500 strong.  1,000 on the sidelines. 1,500 more in the upper section.

The Izzone. 4,000 strong.  1,500 wrapped around the floor. 2,500 more in the rafters.

The Cameron Crazies.  2,500 students with undergrads along the sidelines, grad students along the baselines.

Yes, being behind the basket is a crappy view compared to the half court seats previously. That was a sacrifice we were willing to make to increase the student experience.

No, that was the screw-job you were willing to pass on to your fellow students.

Many of you think that a student section would be useless because being on one end has "zero" effect on the game or only on a "fourth" of the game. We will do fine! Are you telling me that 1900 students aren’t going to cause some noise and disturbance for the other team? Plenty of other big name schools are doing a fine job with behind-the-basket seats!

Big-name schools like U$C and Arizona?  The chumps that Morgan Center cited as the examples to follow?  That’s just laughably pathetic.  And besides, that reasoning is just wrong: as Go Bruinz noted, only one big-time school does the baseline student section effectively: Kentucky.  Since they also hired a known cheater as their head coach, they shouldn't be an example of good program management, but hey whatever.  Moreover, the Wildcats aren’t settling for 1,900 seats.  The Wildcats roll in 5,000+ strong.  That’s a big difference.  Huge.

So instead of worrying about "how good we will or won’t look on TV," do something about it!

Tom Izzo thinks that point is just stupid. Who knows more about college basketball?  Tom Izzo, who runs an elite program and has won a national championship or bk bruin, a non-athlete student leader of an apathetic, mediocre student section?

I’m shocked that current student "leaders" are defending this joke of a decision so resolutely.  It’s apparent that they have been completely blinded by Uncle Dan’s sweet nothings because one thing is obvious: Morgan Center rigged the system and used some BS survey to give the Den two terrible options: (1) a divided student section like it is now or (2) a unified student section tucked behind a baseline, with the prime seats going to donors.

Did it ever occur to anyone that there are other options than the two that Morgan Center gave you?

You could follow the Izzone model with students wrapped around three-quarters of the court, with a crazy vibrant student section visible for the whole nation (and elite recruits) to see:


Photo image courtesy of Michigan State University Athletic Department


Or you could follow, what in my opinion, is the best, most intimidating student section in all of college basketball: the Cameron Crazies. Duke has their undergrads along an entire sideline, with grad students on both baselines:


Photo image courtesy of Duke University Athletic Department

It's small, but as you can see, the yellow section: yeah, that's all Duke undergrads, surrounded by Duke graduate students on both baselines (the red sections).

Hmm, that seems to be working out pretty good for the Blue Devils:


Photo image courtesy of Sports Illustrated

I don’t know about you, but that looks like some major home-court advantage right there.

There were a lot of alternatives to this garbage plan that Morgan Center floated.  They chose to put students last and do what they thought would secure the most money, the students be damned.  The fact that student "leaders" got used like cheap call-girls to validate this move is even sadder.

To be blunt, not only was this post by a student "leader" rambling, contradictory, and frankly, insulting to alums, but it adopted an apologist tone that would make even the defenders of Stalin’s Russia proud.  I mean, how much is Dan G. and his cronies at Morgan Center paying these kids for this drivel?  What were these student "leaders" promised in exchange for selling out their fellow students?

Et tu Den Leader?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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