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Recruits keep students out in cold during game

All season long, the threat has been clear: pack Cameron Indoor Stadium for men's basketball games, or undergraduates risk losing some of their coveted courtside seats.

So for Saturday's game against Clemson University, students showed up in full force--but nearly 200 were turned away at the door anyway.

In spite of statements from line monitors that the Clemson game would be used to evaluate attendance for future changes, 180 of the approximately 1,200 undergraduate seats were set aside by the Department of Athletics for football recruits and their families.

"I don't think it makes sense to give away that many seats, especially because the validation system was put in place to increase student attendance," said junior Baldeep Pabla, who found himself waiting in the snow to no avail.

He was not the only shut-out student questioning the allocation of undergraduates' seats.

"I was shocked," said junior Dean Choi, who got in line approximately 75 minutes before the 6 p.m. tip-off. "They didn't give us any indication that it was going to be packed, or that there was no shot of us getting in."

Head Line Monitor Roberto Bazzani, a senior, said he regretted having to turn away students, but the fire marshal instructed line monitors to stop letting in students shortly before 6 p.m.

Four undergraduates were permitted to sit in the upper bowl, in seats turned in by season-ticket holders, Bazzani said.

"I apologize to everyone who was outside in line," Bazzani told The Chronicle Monday. "It gets to a point where I cannot do anything about it."

Some students said that while they understood the difficulty of the situation, a little bit of communication could have solved many of the evening's ills.

"We kept asking [line monitors] about what probability we had of getting into the game, and they seemed pretty optimistic," Pabla said.

Students received no communication about the reduced seating for the game.

Making matters more confusing, many students were given wristbands even though they were not likely to be able to enter Cameron.

"In past games, they only gave out enough wristbands for people who would have been let in, so I assumed since I had a wristband I would get right in," said junior Ted Belsches, who said he was waved into the arena by line monitors before the entrance was closed in his face.

It was only the second game this year Belsches has missed, he said.

Bazzani said that having a wristband does not guarantee a student entrance to the arena.

Junior Sunny Kantha, Duke Student Government's vice president for athletics and campus services, said he was never notified that the student section size would be reduced for the game.

"I'm actually pretty mad about it and I'm really sad that all the students that waited out couldn't get in," he said.

He added that it was not a permanent change, and that he plans to ask the administration to permanently end the online validation system this week, while preserving the size of the student section.

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