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Lecture Series latecomer policy aims for full house

By Melissa Girgis
On November 26, 2012

Students who attended the Rick Steves lecture, Europe Through the Back Door, Monday Nov. 12, may have noticed the fine print on the left side of their ticket reading: "Ticketholder MUST be seated by 7:55 p.m. or may forfeit their right to this free seat."

According to Craig Harkrider, Box Office Supervisor, individuals who have been waiting in line without tickets are granted seats at 7:55 p.m. based on their place in line. Most often those who were late and lost their seat still get seated, just not in the seat they had a ticket for.

With 735 seats available at Hall Auditorium, the goal is to allow as many people the opportunity to see these speakers as possible. Harkrider said the problem is that sometimes up to 35 or 40 people who picked up tickets at the Shriver Box Office do not end up attending.

"What we typically find with free events is that people don't place as much value on them and then don't always show up," Harkrider said.

The institution of the late policy has been the solution of the lecture series committee for ensuring that people who are excited to see popular speakers are granted that chance. The policy, which has been in practice since fall 2002, is not new protocol. Harkrider said there have been very few if any complaints over the past ten years.

"We have people who are very motivated and drive a long way to see a speaker," Harkrider said. "If five people complain [about the policy] compared to the 200 who got seats, we have to weigh out the customer service pros and cons."

According to Harkrider, Lecture Series lectures are free events on campus for which students can reserve up to two tickets per Miami ID. All lectures occur in Hall Auditorium 8 p.m. Mondays. Tickets are available starting the Wednesday before the lecture for students, faculty and staff, and to the general public that Friday. Tickets are also available at the door beginning at 7 p.m. Past speakers have included prominent individuals such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Sanjay Gupta, Bill Nye, Jerry Springer, Soledad O'Brien and many more.

Junior Molly Gregor, a student whose seat was given away at the Rick Steves lecture, was frustrated when she arrived a few minutes late, only to have the fine print pointed out to her. She was still able to get a seat, although it was not the one she had picked up a ticket for.

"I absolutely do not think it's fair," Gregor said. "I was coming from a class that ended at 8:15 and had already left early to make it to the lecture on time."

Senior lecturer in the journalism program and lecture committee member Patricia Gallagher Newberry said the committee understands that the late policy may be frustrating to busy students, but encourages them to be proactive on their own behalf and talk to someone at the box office or to their professors.

Sophomore Elisa Frazier said she agrees students should take responsibility and arrive on time.

"I think the policy is important because students may be required to go for a class and may show up late just so they can see enough of the lecture to get credit," Frazier said. "Regardless of their reason for being late, it's rude to the speakers."

Newberry said the policy has been an effective way to honor speakers with a full house and to get seats to people who wanted to come but were not able to get tickets.

Harkrider said he agreed.

"It's actually not a negative thing, it's a very positive thing," Harkrider said. "We have consistently been able to seat everyone without a ticket."

In regards to the "fine print" on the tickets, Harkrider said it is actually fairly prominent and hard to miss.

"We're not trying to hide anything from anyone or deceive anyone," Harkrider said.


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