The newly adopted practice of students camping out in front of Mackey Arena to secure the best general admission seats for Purdue home games is going away.
Students will no longer be allowed to endure the elements - sometimes buffeted with hot chocolate from the John Purdue Club and donuts courtesty of Matt Painter - and will now have to submit their names to a lottery for seats on game days. One can imagine the indignation abounding after such a decision, especially when it coincides with last night's upset victory at Wisconsin and Tuesday's scheduled rumble with powerhouse Michigan St.
Bloggers and commenters are pretty unanimous here: it stinks. And it does. First Purdue finally thumbed their nose at benefactors and conglomerated the student section at Mackey...but that began during the lean basketball years. Now the Paint Crew is beside itself and ready to welcome back the Big Ten leading Boilermakers and follow them on their march through, uh, March. Then the impromptu KOA Kampground outside Mackey that had some 40 students waiting in line five days in advance of the next home game. To say enthusiasm is up is obvious.
Still the faithful are crying foul over the cease and desist move of the administration. While it is highly unfortunate - partly because it deflates the media attention around home games, but mostly for the crimping of Paint Crew style - the halting is 100% justified - to the powers that be - when viewed against recent events on campus.
Starting with the murder of Jay Severson in October 1996, Purdue has endured a spate of liability issues that have left the university extremely on guard. Most recently, freshman Wade Steffey's accidental electrocution put Purdue back between the negligence cross-hairs. These situations are always lose-lose for all parties and people will more often than not side more with their fellow people than with institutions. Purdue doesn't want another trip trough the media gauntlet when some unforeseen freak accident, that really has nothing to do with the school but rather with the independent action of individuals, pulls them back into the murky limelight.
The demolition of Paint City sucks, plain and simple, especially amid this winning streak. But we have to understand than when you're one of the largest schools in the nation, and you're a bit tired of settling out of court with the parents of deceased students, you're probably not too willing to put the target on your back, especially when folks are doing whatever it is their choosing to do in your front yard.
Do I think anyone was going to freeze to death? No. Was academic progress hindered? Not with the generous "Hold my spot" provisions woven into the Paint City Compact. Will this disolving dilute the school spirit a bit? Maybe.
Is Purdue University covering their ass? You bet your sweet $1.46 billion endowment they are.