Some students’ dreams came true Wednesday night.
And some students’ dreams fell victim to the university’s lack of adequate planning.
Anticipation of Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s participation in On Topic with President Ken Starr rose quickly across campus as word spread that the former U.S. Secretary of State would be on campus for the non-ticketed event Nov. 9 in Waco Hall.
Doors were set to open at 6:45 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. event, and crowds of Rice’s eager admirers gathered outside Waco Hall’s doors even earlier in hopes of ensuring their spots in the audience.
But even some of the first to arrive, who should have had secure spots, were soon made to leave. They had claimed chairs in what appeared to be available seating, but was actually a reserved section.
With the crowd pouring in fast, many of the now-displaced attendees couldn’t find alternate seating. Their diligence, early arrival and time spent waiting now meant nothing.
The situation could have easily been avoided had tickets been offered to all prospective attendees. But they weren’t. Only university patrons were offered free tickets, giving them an advantage over many students who would have gladly even paid for a reserved spot.
We recognize that the university has issued an apology for the way the event was handled and has pledged to look into exactly what went wrong so that such situations can be avoided in the future.
Meetings to address the situation have already been held, and we hope that the university will follow through to ensure future events run more smoothly.
For most of us, seeing Condoleezza Rice in person was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It was sad to see that chance slip away for so many students, especially for those who wanted to attend so badly that they lined up outside Waco Hall early to ensure their spot, and then were turned away because of the flawed seating arrangement.
With all of the large venues in Waco, it seems that a better arrangement could have easily been made. The Extraco Events Center or even Floyd Casey Stadium would have allowed for higher student attendance if the Ferrell Center wasn’t available — and when the university asks students to come out and support an event, it should be ready to accommodate.
There are few academic events that can elicit such anticipation from students, and it is a sincere disappointment that so many students rose up in support of this event only to be told to go home.
The experience was partially salvaged for some who couldn’t get seats when event organizers finally managed to set up the sound system so that the discussion could be heard in the foyer of Waco Hall. Many students intent on hearing Rice speak remained in the foyer.
But it was too little, too late for the many students who had already been shooed from the building.
It is surprising that such a prominent speaker’s presence on campus wouldn’t have prompted greater forethought from the university.
It is also disheartening that students who had made every effort to secure their spots were turned away because of a university error.
Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but good planning can go a long way as well.