That's the key word when it comes to being a Texas student and dealing with student ticketing. This isn't news by any stretch of the imagination. It's as enriched in the tradition of being a University of Texas student as singing the Eyes of Texas after a football game. That doesn't mean it can't be fixed. In fact, there are solutions so simple that it seems ludicrous that they haven't already been implemented.
For those unfamiliar with how the student section is set up, here is a general description of who is where in DKR on Saturday afternoons in the fall. The best seats are reserved for the seniors. These seats include much of the lower deck on the east side. Juniors are sprinkled through the northeast corner. Sophomores and freshman have to share seats anywhere from the upper deck to the south endzone. (Notice why it's empty on Thanksgiving? Freshmen who aren't from Austin are never going to stay for that game.)
Students are assigned a specific seat at each game, not just their section. Those who feel entitled to good seats just because they purchased them in June have no incentive to get to the game early. Instead, they can waltz into DKR at kickoff and go straight to their seat. The same goes for every other student who has purchased a student ticket. It's the reason that the "Turn Up DKR" game from last season was doomed to fail from its inception. There is zero incentive for showing up early. There is zero incentive for being a good fan.
The timing behind Quandre Diggs' tweets about the student section is important, and it goes beyond the ESPN article that doesn't have the Longhorns student section ranked in the top-five of the Big 12 (a piece written by a former Oklahoma Sooner, may I remind you). The University is currently in the middle of student elections, and as usual, a hot-button issue for Texas students is athletic ticket reform. For as much politicking as you'll see in front of the tower on weeks like this, there has been, at least in the past, the same amount of stonewalling from the administration.
I don't want to suggest that students deserve a free pass for being weak fans, because they don't. But consider this: Texas students technically get six games a year. With one game permanently scheduled for Thanksgiving and the other being a pushover opponent like New Mexico State, that leaves Texas students with four. Now, if you consider that Iowa State and Kansas play at Texas in alternating years, you really only have three games for Texas students to legitimately get excited about. If the team isn't performing well, then it can be hard to rally the troops.
For 2014, those games are BYU, Baylor, and West Virginia. Meanwhile, in College Station, students are enjoying an embarrassment of riches when it comes to home football games. Frame it however you want to, but the more exciting college football opponents visiting the state of Texas aren't coming to Austin. For the fair-weather student fan who hasn't been at the University of Texas long enough to see the team excel beyond an Alamo Bowl (and, unfortunately, that includes this year's senior class), this plays an important role in the campus-wide apathy that we've all become accustomed to seeing at UT.
My proposal for fixing it is simple: Get. There. Early.
Seniors, juniors, sophomores. and freshmen (yes, freshmen) should have assigned sections rather than assigned seats. If you want a good seat at the game, you better get there early. It's not entirely a free-for-all and seniority is still a factor with the oldest students still receiving the best available sections, but it's still a significant change from what students see today.
I've seen it work before. This year, I sat in opposing student sections for the TCU game and was able to witness how early West Virginia students showed up for prime seating. It's all about incentivizing the process. Leave room for upgrades. If certain freshman are showing up to more events than the average student, allow them to earn better seats. Give the students a reason to show up with superior seating, and they will come. Improve the scheduling, and they will come. Don't put them through TSA-level restrictive checkpoints, and they will come.
The current student administration created a new committee for the 2013-14 school year. It's called Students for Texas Athletics and it deals directly with students voicing their concerns directly with leaders in the Athletic department. They are pitching ideas from student ticket reform to on-campus tailgating areas. These ideas are meant to enhance the football game experience for both the students and the alumni. If the changes are implemented, it'll be a huge moral boost for both the students and the team.
Enhancing the atmosphere at DKR is beneficial for the program, for recruiting, and for the fans. Everybody wants to see an improvement at DKR, but right now the main question is, "how do we do that?" Better seats? Alcohol sales? All options should be explored if there is a possibility that they could improve the product.
It's a new era for the Texas football program and I am a firm believer in "winning cures everything", but students need this broken system to be fixed. Now. Changing the football culture in Austin goes beyond the sidelines.
-Curry Shoff, University of Texas class of