Block seating application revamped for fall

The Student Government Association will score applications for block seating electronically next football season as part of a series of reforms to the block seating process.

“We formed several task forces, a couple of different commissions to really get student opinion about what exactly was the problem with student organization seating and, not to anyone’s surprise, it was the process,” SGA President Stephen Swinson said at an SGA-wide meeting Thursday. “So, we really wanted to simplify it. We wanted to make a system where everyone involved has confidence in the processes. We felt really the main way to achieve that is to go to an electronic version.”

Under the new system, each registered student organization who wishes to apply for block seating will fill out an online request form available during the first four class days of the fall 2012 academic semester, according to a slideshow provided by the SGA.

The form will include the names and email addresses of organization members who will sit in the organization’s block. An organization must list at least 25 but no more than 200 members.

Organizations can request seating for guests, which will be awarded based on their score, provided that the number of seats, with guests included, does not exceed the 200-seat cap. Students in multiple student organizations that apply for seating must select one organization’s application to be counted toward, Swinson said.

Student organizations will be scored equally on academics; community service, as recorded through SLPro; and campus leadership, recorded through OrgSync, on a relative scale.

If 35 organizations apply, the top organization in each category will receive 35 points, and the lowest performing organization will get one point. If two organizations were to receive the same score in any category, the SGA has established procedures to break the tie. The scores will be posted online.

“I think that we’ve made a large amount of progress in this area and that student organizations are only going to become better because of the criteria that is now involved in this process,” Swinson said.

SGA Senate spokesman Austin Gaddis said the electronic scoring system would be an improvement.

"Having an actual, objective machine score block seating applications is far superior to letting the corrupt, self-interested Machine do it, as we have done in the past," Gaddis said.

"So, in that regard, these reforms will make our student organization seating system much more fair and transparent, and we believe that more diverse organizations will be encouraged to apply and be given an opportunity for good seating as a result."

Reforming this process has been a major focus for the SGA this year, said Ryan Flamerich, speaker of the SGA Senate.

"I want to thank Stephen and his administration for their leadership in addressing this issue," he said. "As a result, our student organizations will be given an equal opportunity to compete for seating in Bryant-Denny Stadium next year when we cheer the defending national champions on to more victories."

Flamerich said the new system relies on technology the University already has.

“Using technology that we have already purchased to make student organization seating more fair and accessible just makes a lot of sense," he said.

            The block seating section will continue to be located in the lower bowl of the student section in Bryant-Denny Stadium, from sections S-4 to S-8, and include the first 35 rows of section S-3. Section S-3 was added to the block seating section during the fall 2011 football season.

When the expansion was announced last September, Mark Nelson, UA vice president of Student Affairs, said the change would be temporary.

“Because of the significant amount of miscommunication about the procedures, and after being asked to review the initial decision by the SOS committee and several student groups who were impacted by the committee’s decision, I agreed to a one-time, non-precedent-setting addition of seats,” he said in September.

The SGA will hold an information session about the new system on March 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Ferguson Center Room 300.

 

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