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Thousands camp for basketball tickets

Prospective graduate student basketball spectators gathered this weekend for the annual Graduate and Professional Student Council’s basketball ticket Campout.

The turnout this year surpassed previous years. From 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday morning, approximately 2,500 graduate and professional students camped in tents and recreational vehicles in the back lots of the Blue Zone for the opportunity to purchase season tickets for men’s basketball.

Despite a change in location and a registration fee increase from $5 to $10, campers did not feel a substantial difference from previous Campouts. Jan Pierskalla, a third-year graduate student in political science, said little had changed although Campout moved from last year’s soccer field off Science Drive back to the accustomed Blue Zone. In addtion, there was less free food and an earlier tent set-up time was implemented Thursday night.

Felicia Hawthorne, co-chair of the GPSC Men’s Basketball Committee and a second-year Ph.D. candidate in genetics and genomics, said the fee change has been a long time coming.

“With the T-shirts that are distributed costing more than the $5 fee and an overall decrease in monetary donations because of the recession, it was necessary,” Hawthorne said.  

The stagnant economy also meant fewer food donations for the committee compared to previous years. Hawthorne said, however, the food distribution had been a relatively new addition to the Campout, and two meals were still provided within a 36-hour period.

Due to concerns about a Fall outbreak of swine flu, there were some questions about the hygienic conditions of the Campout grounds this year. The GPSC Men’s Basketball Committee collaborated with the Student Health Center to ensure sanitary food preparation and distribution in addition to providing campers with individual bottles of hand sanitizer, Hawthorne said.

Campers had to make it through the weekend without missing two attendance checks to be entered in the ticket lottery. If chosen, graduate students pay $150 for season tickets to every home game, which averages to less than $8 a game.

This year, these tickets will place some graduate students on each end of the court, Jon Jackson, associate athletic director for communications, wrote in an e-mail.  

Although some students said Campout is a large time commitment, others said the weekend is less demanding than the undergraduate tenting experience for basketball tickets. A first-year law student Sam Tasher, Trinity ’09, said he recognizes the priority graduate students receive.

“I appreciate a less rigid weekend Campout as opposed to tenting,” Tasher said. “The big difference is that Campout is not in the middle of the winter and not a long-lasting duty.”

Many campers saw Campout as a time to take advantage of participating in different events while showing school spirit.

Claudia Ahwireng, a second-year law student and a first-time camper, said the planned events helped give graduate students a chance to get involved in the community and show their spirit. Events included a Guitar Hero tournament, a live DJ and dance party Friday night and several group outings.

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