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Single occupancy students allowed to sit with others during football games following petition

| Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Notre Dame students who were going to be forced to sit by themselves at football games this fall learned Thursday that they will no longer have to be alone. A petition to change the seating policy including more than 300 student signatures was sent to the administration last week, eliciting a rapid response from the Murnane Family Ticket Office.

The petition began circulating through the student body Monday night after student football tickets went on sale earlier in the evening. The Aug. 31 email from the ticket office stated that students would be seated by room assignments, with a maximum of four tickets per residence group. Students are expected to stay at their assigned seat the email said.

The petition expressed concerns about students living in single residence rooms and students whose roommates are not purchasing football tickets, who would be left to sit alone in Notre Dame Stadium during the games. The petition called for single-occupancy students to have the option of choosing additional students to sit with during football games.

Many students were forced into single living spaces this fall for reasons out of their control, the petition stated, including students with medical needs who required special accommodations in the wake of COVID-19 and students whose original fall roommates moved off-campus.

The petition was first sent to the Notre Dame administration and then forwarded to the ticket office. On Thursday, the ticket office sent a response email to students who did not have the opportunity to purchase tickets with roommates. The email stated that these students would have the opportunity to sit with up to three other single-occupancy peers of the same residence hall.

The petition was started by senior Ashley Panousis, a resident assistant in Ryan Hall.

“When I saw the current policy and talked about it with other students living in single rooms, we were all very concerned,” Panousis said. “Football games are one of my favorite experiences at Notre Dame, and I didn’t want myself and other seniors to be isolated for our last games as students.”

College football Saturdays normally bring energy and excitement to Notre Dame, with large groups of students joining together to cheer on the Irish in Notre Dame Stadium. With the number of students that can sit together now restricted, watching games with friends will be more difficult for students. However, Panousis is glad that the ticket office quickly devised a solution for single-occupancy students ahead of Saturday’s home opener.

“I am definitely satisfied with the response to the issue we raised,” she said. “I personally have friends in other dorms that I would love to sit with, but I understand why students would need to sort by residence hall. [The Ticket Office] has allowed every student to sit near people they know without increasing risk. I am grateful they listened and enacted a policy with single rooms is mind.”

Senior Dunne Hall resident assistant Steven Cascio, also appreciated the cause of the petition.

“When I saw the petition going around, it gave me a lot of hope for those of us living in single rooms that we would get to enjoy Notre Dame football with our friends one last time,” he said. “I wasn’t going to buy tickets initially with everything that’s going on, but I’ve definitely become more optimistic about the situation after this decision.”

With social distancing and mask wearing in effect, the game will certainly look and feel different in Notre Dame Stadium. Only students and some faculty and staff will be allowed in the stands, making the in-game experience a far cry from the normally packed house of 80,000. Cascio however, wants to make the most of this strange 2020 season.

“I will definitely miss the crowd and the traditions like touchdown pushups, but I’m just going to try and enjoy the games as much as I can,” he said. “It might not be a perfect season, but I am glad that the students will at least have the opportunity to be together in the stands.”

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About Colin Capece

Colin is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in political science and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He hails from the great state of New York and currently serves as an Assistant Managing Editor at The Observer for the 2021-2022 academic year. You can sometimes find him on Twitter at @ColinCapeceND

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