Lariat Letters: BU apologizes for, students disappointed over seating issues at Rice talk
Student perspective: Poor choice of venue hurt underestimated crowd
At 7:30 p.m. yesterday evening, Baylor University welcomed the 66th U.S. secretary of state and the nation’s first female national security adviser Dr. Condoleezza Rice to Waco Hall. It was a proud moment indeed. However, a not-so-proud moment was ensuing outside of Waco Hall’s shut doors, as hundreds of students who did not arrive before 6:30 p.m. were turned away. This event was highly anticipated: posters adorned the walls of residence halls throughout campus, professors offered extra credit for student attendance and several emails were forwarded to all students over the course of the past week.
When we came out to support our university, we were turned away by police officers blocking each and every entrance. Needless to say, Baylor University students are enraged and highly disappointed about this deflation of built-up anticipation. This anger is perpetuated by the fact that a large number of late-comers were able to successfully push past the student crowd to take their place in the roped off “VIP” section seating.
Why wasn’t the Ferrell Center utilized? Women’s volleyball had it reserved. Fair enough. However, was there no other alternative?
Perhaps students should have been offered tickets on a first-come, first-served basis during the week before the event. There would have been no false hope for all those who did not possess the golden ticket.
—Destiny D. Dike
Wednesday evening, we hosted a remarkable event on the Baylor University campus. Former U.S secretary of state Dr. Condoleezza Rice held a packed house at Waco Hall in rapt attention as she spoke with great candor and insight about her experiences as our nation’s chief diplomat. Dr. Rice described the life experiences that influenced her personal and professional journey, and offered her perspectives on critical issues in the areas of world affairs and current U.S. foreign policy.
Unfortunately, the popularity of the event also gave way to a series of missteps in our management of the overflow crowd that resulted in hardship and disappointment for some in attendance. We deeply regret that this happened.
Specifically, reserved seating for university patrons, who had been invited to a pre-event reception with Dr. Rice, was not adequately marked. When the doors were opened prematurely, ushers did not sufficiently communicate to our guests the intended use of the reserved seats. As a result, some of those who arrived earliest to obtain preferred seating were later asked to surrender their seats. The capacity crowd that had assembled at Waco Hall made it very difficult for those staffing the event to adequately relocate all those who had been displaced.
While we are delighted with the interest generated by the event, we acknowledge that the historic crowd that turned out at Waco Hall last evening made it impossible for us to seat all those who were interested in our “On Topic” conversation. This is something we will need to consider in the future.
Our deepest apologies are reserved for those in our community who arrived early to obtain desired seating for this non-ticketed event only to be instructed to give up their seat before the event began.
The university has assembled the relevant staff to review mistakes made Wednesday evening and to ensure that future events do not result in similar errors and inconveniences to our guests.
The On Topic program was videotaped and is now available on the university’s website at www.baylor.edu/president/condoleezzarice. In addition, our local public radio station, 103.3, KWBU, audio taped the interview and intends to broadcast the conversation on at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 18.
Our most sincere apologies to those who were unable to enjoy what was a spectacular evening in every other respect.
—John M. Barry
Communications and Marketing