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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Bruins Nation Leads Charge Against UCLA Student Section Being Moved

UCLA is renovating Pauley Pavilion and part of the proposed changes with the new arena include the student section getting moved. Instead of being courtside, the new student section was set to be moved behind one of the baskets. The athletic department tried to sell the move by saying it would create more unity with the student section (previously there was a level of separation between the students courtside and at the top level), and they proclaimed the new setup would create more student seats. That was a bunch of garbage and the sad thing is some extremely short-sighted Bruin Den student “leaders” went along with the move because they felt it would help them get more friends at the games.

When it comes to the Bruins (and most teams for that matter), there’s only one way to ensure a large, supportive crowd at games: win and win a lot. Secondly, this is a despicable act by the athletic department with the intention of making more high-revenue seats available for public consumption.

“Why should we give up 500 courtside seats to students when we could charge hundreds or thousands of dollars and score a nice profit?” was likely their thinking. Again, that is a narrow viewpoint. The best way to ensure crowds and demand for tickets is by having a winning program. Having a homecourt advantage (which raging, yelling students provide compared to quiet alumni) is a key proponent to winning games. If you don’t believe that, ask Duke and their Cameron Crazies how much of a help an intimidating environment can provide.

We probably shouldn’t be surprised by the myopic mentality; this is the same athletic department that placed an ad in a Fresno newspaper encouraging visiting fans to come down to LA and root against the Bruins all to sell more tickets. They simply don’t “get” the importance of creating home crowds. Keeping the students courtside — where they’ve always been — rather than behind the basket is a priority with enormous importance. I really don’t understand how the players and coaches haven’t spoken out against the move. Luckily, UCLA fan site Bruins Nation took the lead with the movement.

Bruins Nation started an entire #SFatPauley movement aimed at keeping the student section courtside. They started a petition that amassed over 1,000 signatures, they bombarded the facebook page for the UCLA athletics department, and they forced a vote amongst students on the issue. As a result of the heavy pressure applied by Bruins Nation, the athletic department said they would restore the old student section if that’s how the fans voted.

For background, Bruins Nation is the same Bruins community that started the “Veto Seto” campaign to voice the concern of fans over the impending hire of Rocky Seto as the football team’s defensive coordinator. Shortly after the campaign was launched, UCLA improvised its plans and ended up hiring someone else.

Bruins Nation has done a masterful job with launching grass-roots campaigns to express their displeasure. Their causes have been noble and their efforts have been filled with passion and fervor. Thanks to their blitzkrieg, 69% of students who voted in the poll said they did not want the student section to be moved. The overwhelming response should be significant enough for the athletic department to rightfully restore the old student section.

I cannot believe the priorities of UCLA’s athletic department were so misguided, but I could not be more proud of my fellow Bruins for launching such a well-organized and influential campaign against the move. Give yourselves a hand, Bruins Nation, you’ve done a masterful job.



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