USC students upset over ticket limitations for graduation - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

USC students upset over ticket limitations for graduation

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COLUMBIA, SC (AP) -

More than 1,000 University of South Carolina students have spoken up about Vice President Joe Biden giving the school's commencement address after they learned they would be given a limited number of tickets to allow their families to attend.

But there's actually another graduation ceremony that has some students even more upset.

Biden is delivering the address for about 1,400 graduating students on May 9th. Those students have had the number of guests they can invite restricted.  But the President of Boeing is addressing a different  group of graduates the next day with no restrictions on graduation tickets.

Students who have to limit the number of friends and loved ones who can come to their special day said they understand there are security concerns and other issues that restricts the number of guests they can have. But they're upset over the fact other graduates aren't being given the same restrictions.

Students can get extra tickets, if there are any still available, about 10 days before graduation, on a first come, first served basis.

"It's so frustrating," said Emily McDonnell.  "I understand people are excited, it's the vice president. I'm excited at this point too, or I was, but it's not their graduation. They get who they get, and we get who we get."

Students said Tuesday what's making this all the more confusing is that graduation is less than a month away and their questions have not been answered.

Due to the number of graduates, the University of South Carolina holds several commencement ceremonies, with different speakers. Students are scheduled for commencement based on the schools from which they graduate.

Tuesday University officials announced that the number of tickets available will be increased from five to seven per student. Students must have a ticket for themselves.

"The increase comes after university and arena officials were able to reconfigure the traditional seating arrangement for the ceremony, which will honor the largest number of graduates at a commencement ceremony in the university's history and feature Vice President Joe Biden as the commencement speaker," said a statement from USC.

"This is the largest graduating class and commencement ceremony in the university's history, a fact we should be proud of as an institution, and the demand for tickets has been tremendous," said university spokesperson Wes Hickman. "We appreciate the patience and flexibility of everyone involved—students and their families and the Colonial Life Arena staff—as we work to accommodate as many graduates and their loved ones as possible."

"The ability to increase the guaranteed ticket allotment to six for guests will accommodate the majority of the requests for additional tickets we have received so far," Hickman continued. "For those who may need a few more than that, we're hopeful that those requests can be accommodated through unclaimed tickets. Some Friday graduates may not need the full allotment and many Saturday graduates may choose not to come on Friday. There should be plenty of tickets to go around."

Here is the updated information provided by USC officials:

Due to anticipated demand, tickets are required for everyone attending the 3 p.m. Bachelor's & Master's Ceremony on Friday, May 9. This includes graduates, their guests, the platform party and members of the faculty participating in the ceremony. Saturday graduates may attend but must also have a ticket.

Tickets will be issued April 24-25 from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. at the ticket windows at Colonial Life Arena.

Friday graduates who have signed up to participate in the ceremony:
• Present photo ID or Carolina Card – your name will be checked with Friday graduation list.
• You will receive one ticket for yourself.
• You may get up to six additional tickets for guests. You must present a typed list of your guests' full names.

Saturday graduates who have signed up to participate in either ceremony:
• Present photo ID or Carolina Card – your name will be checked with your respective ceremony list.
• You will receive one ticket for yourself.

Any remaining tickets will be made available to Friday graduates beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 28. You must present a typed list of your additional guests' full names.

Faculty tickets will now be distributed by the provost's office.

Access to Colonial Life Arena
Colonial Life Arena main entrance doors will open Friday at 11:30 a.m. Please arrive early to allow for security scans.

Guests must enter through the main Colonial Life Arena entrance at the corner of Greene and Lincoln streets; graduates and faculty should use the College Street entrance. For entrance, each person must present a ticket and photo ID.

Cameras and video cameras will be permitted, but bags are discouraged and will be searched.

Prohibited and discouraged items:
• No signs, posters or noisemakers will be allowed.
• No backpacks, briefcases or laptops will be allowed.
• Purses and bags are discouraged and will be searched.
Important: Doors will be closed at 2:20 p.m. and everyone must be seated by 2:30 p.m. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m.

Parking
Free parking and shuttles will begin at 10:30 a.m. from the following USC parking garages:
• Pendleton Street (enter from Pickens Street)
• Senate Street
• Horizon
• Discovery

Free parking will be available in the surface parking lots adjacent to Colonial Life Arena, however due to the limited number of surface spaces guests are strongly encouraged to make use of garages and free shuttle service.

Information Updates
For news, ticketing, parking access and traffic updates, check local media outlets or visit the university website at http://commencement.sc.edu/.

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