By Talbert Toole
The Ole Miss Rebels are four games into the 2018 football season, with the Rebels facing off the LSU Tigers Saturday night in Death Valley; however, this year’s football season has also faced a series of backlash from the student body because of intense heat in the student section, which was moved from the south end zone to the north end zone before the start of the 2016 football season.
Recently, an organization named “The Voice of the People” created a petition—”Move the Student Section Back to the Shade”— through change.org.
As of 10:30 a.m Friday, the petition has garnered 2,763 signatures of its 5,000 goal requesting the university administration to move the student section back to its original place, which is in a shadier part of the stadium, in the Vaught-Hemingway stadium.
The petition stated that the majority of students attending the games have dislike for the student section being placed in the north end zone due its distance from the field and the heat.
Michael Thompson, Deputy Athletic Director for External Relations and Business Development, said the athletic department is always looking for ways to improve the game day experience for all fans, which includes current students, alumni and visitors.
“Students are a vital group for creating a home field advantage,” Thompson said.
In 2014, the university listened to student leaders regarding the student section of the stadium, Thompson said, and acted on those request to expand the student section while keeping it close to the football field. Moving the stadium to the north end zone also offered more restrooms and newer concessions stands, while also providing a convenient entrance into the stadium from the Grove for those students, he said.
“Our philosophy of listening to our fans hasn’t changed,” Thompson said. “So we look forward to dialog with student leaders about how we can collaborate on making the Vaught a tough place to play for our opponents.”
Ole Miss alumnus Zach Lepchitz said he does not see a reason for the students to be moved back to the original placement of the section form their newly built seats.
“If the main complaint is that it’s hot for morning and day games, then give your tickets to the people who are happy to be at a football game,” Lepchitz said.
He said when he was a student at the university, he and his fellow classmates suffered through mostly 11 a.m. football games.
“I suggest sucking it up and be grateful that you have a team and a place to watch it,” he said.
Parents of Ole Miss students have also spoken on the issue advocating for the student section to be moved back to the south end zone.
Melody Quinn, a mother of an Ole Miss student, commented on the petition writing she believes the section should be moved back to its original location because her daughter can hardly make it through an entire football game due to the sun’s heat.
Jonah McBeth, a senior senior MIS (management information systems) major, said he was excited to buy season tickets for his first semester at Ole Miss, especially with a new expanded student section that was the talk of the campus.
“The first game of course was fun,” McBeth said, “But before the first quarter was over we are all shirtless , before the second quarter one of my friends was physically carried out of the stadium because she passed out due to heat.”
McBeth said his friend had not been drinking at all that day, which could not have caused her to pass out. It had to have been heat related due to the aluminum seats intensifying the heat in the student section.
After attending a few more games and experiencing the same situation, McBeth opted out of attending Ole Miss football games and decided to start selling his tickets.
This is a developing story. Follow hottytoddy.com for updates.