During their weekly meeting Monday, Maize Rage — the student-organized cheering section for a the University’s men’s basketball team — discussed the confusion that occurred before Sunday’s basketball game against Michigan State.
Students arrived at the Crisler Center early Sunday morning and began to form a line for entry into the building in order to obtain the best seating. Later, students in the original line were told by authorities to relocate to a secondary line. While some complied, others remained in the original line for fear of losing the bleacher seats that they had been waiting for.
Students from the second line, most of whom arrived later, were granted first access to desired seating locations. After some delay, authorities compromised by granting those remaining students access to a different section of seats.
During the meeting, Maize Rage members and other students discussed possible solutions that might ensure similar events could be avoided in the future. Some of the ideas offered included the elimination of a start-time for students to begin lining up before a game and the possibility of priority-based seating for students who have attended the most games in the past.
Some attendees also agreed that adding fences or barricades to guide the line-up process would be helpful. On Sunday, Rob Rademacher, associate director of facilities and operations, said the University’s Athletic Department consistently evaluates their attendance policies, including the use of barriers and increased security to improve attendees’ experience.
“We haven’t made a decision on anything,” LSA senior Sasha Shaffer, Maize Rage president, said. “It’s an ongoing process that, obviously it’s only been a little over 24 hours since it happened, so we haven’t come down to a decision.”
Although a representative from the University’s Athletic Department representative was expected to attend the meeting, no staff member was present.
“I mean, they obviously have a lot going on, so it just couldn’t happen,” Shaffer said. “But they’re setting up a meeting.”
Engineering freshman Duane London, a Maize Rage member, said he thought the Athletic Department did not properly plan for the event.
“I think sometimes they just, sitting in the office, they don’t think about what’s going to happen out there on the site, and it’s just something they need to improve on in the future,” London said. “I also don’t think that the Maize Rage handled it particularly well either by starting the second line and causing a second mass stampede.”
He said priority seating might be a possible improvement.
“I guess I don’t really have a perfect solution to offer, but it’s definitely something that we need to discuss further and get the athletic department and the rest of the students involved as well,” he said.
Nursing junior Mary Wood, a Maize Rage member, also said priority seating would be beneficial.
“I don’t think that we should have to wait outside and potentially have people get hurt,” Wood said. “I think that that would eliminate a lot of safety concerns and I think that it would cut down on a lot of the confusion.”
The meeting also covered other related issues of security, ticket policies and student seating.
“We got a lot done, and I think obviously part of that was driven by what happened yesterday,” London said. “I was really impressed with the ideas that people brought, and it seemed like an hour just wasn’t enough at this point, which is not usually the feeling I get after meetings.”
Wood said she doesn’t know how she would have handled such a difficult situation, but poor communication was part of the issue.
“It was interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on it,” Wood said. “I think it was a positive forum for just getting to tell your side of the story, which I think a lot of people wanted to be able to do.”