ULS changes ticketing process to avoid crowding

Lines for Bill Nye’s lecture in April stretched around two floors of the Marshall Student Center and extended outside past Student Health Services. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/WESLEY HIGGINS

Though students will be waiting in line at Wednesday’s lecture by “Breaking Bad” actor RJ Mitte, the line may be shorter than expected, as many students may have already gotten their tickets this weekend through a new practice started by ULS.

Mitte, who will be hosted by the University Lecture Series (ULS) at a cost of $18,500, is set to give a public lecture about overcoming adversity in the entertainment industry and share part of his story of working with cerebral palsy.

To improve the wait time, ULS’s new ticketing process will allow students to reserve tickets several days in advance. Though this pre-registration for Mitte’s lecture closed Monday, the lecture is still free and open to the public.

According to ULS Coordinator Athena Bressack in an email to The Oracle, registered students must bring their printed ticket and valid USF student ID to the event. This pre-registration is for students only. Community members will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

In April, ULS faced issues of crowding, as almost 1,000 students waited in line throughout the day for science icon Bill Nye’s lecture. At the time, some of the earliest students started lining up at 8 a.m. — 12 hours before the start of the lecture.

While select students complained of waiting in the Florida sun or having to skip class to make sure they had a reserved spot, many questioned ULS’s decision to hold the lecture in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom, which has a seating capacity of 1,100. About 700 additional students were turned to the Oval Theater for a live-streaming of the lecture.

Many students even recommended simply holding the lecture in the Sun Dome, which can seat over 10,000.

In a previous email to The Oracle, Director of Communications and Marketing for Student Affairs Renee Hunt said moving the lecture to the Sun Dome was discussed, but it would have cost up to $25,000, which would have broken ULS’s budget. 

The Sun Dome costs are due to maintenance and staff, which is privately managed by Global Spectrum.

The last ULS speaker in the Sun Dome was world-renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, whose lecture cost $60,000 and was paid for through both ULS and the Frontier Forum lecture series.

In addition to providing a new pre-registration period for all ULS events, Bressack also said ULS updated its audience policy to eliminate the student guest option and reserve the right to make a lecture only open to students.

“All USF students will have their own line for each event, and 80 percent of the seating for the live lecture will be allocated for students,” ULS’s audience policy states on its website. “ULS reserves the right to make any lecture closed to the public with advanced notice, providing 100 percent of the seating to USF students.

“All guests, which include USF faculty and staff and Tampa Bay community members, will wait in a second line. Entrance to the event will be allowed 15 minutes after USF students have been allowed to enter. 20 percent of the seating for the live lecture will be allocated for guests. If USF student seating is not full, guests will be allowed to overflow into this allocation.”

If you didn’t get a chance to pre-register, students and community members are still able to wait in two separate lines before the doors open to Mitte’s lecture at 7:30 p.m.

Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox will also speak in the MSC Ballroom on March 21.

Pre-registration for ULS events can be done through the university’s TouchNet system, which can be found advertised on ULS’s posts on social media.