(COVINGTON, La.) — Controversy is stirring on the campus of St. Paul’s School over the new seating arrangements that now place the band in a part of the student section in Hunter Stadium for football games on Friday nights.
Students who used to sit in the area now reserved for band members have split opinions on the seating arrangements. Many students feel it may be a good option for the band’s logistics, but not for the student body as a whole.
“I wouldn’t say it’s so bad as it is good,” senior Will Dugan said. “But it is taking away from senior seating. It makes it harder to watch the game.”
“They’re trying to do what the other schools are doing, and trying to make it more lively. But it’s kind of frustrating having waited so long and ending up having a shortage of space because of the band,” said senior Kole Gorney, who said he has nothing against the band, personally.
The band has had a series of seating arrangement changes over the past five years, in an attempt to find a spot that works the best for the fans, the team, and the band combined. When the smaller stands in front of the concession stand were built, the band was originally seated there. However, hearing them was a challenge for the fans, and space was also an issue.
From there, the band was seated in folding chairs behind the end zone. Hearing them was still difficult, and the location created a disconnect between them and the fans.
Late last season, the band was seated on the track in front of the small stands, facing the larger stands. Hearing became less of an issue for students, and the band was closer to the students, but the band still felt disconnected from the student body.
“It feels like we’re part of the (student section) now, and it makes us sound much better,” senior band member Jacob Authement said.
Senior Drum Major Lane Sumrall was excited about the change and says that, for the band, it’s been a long time coming.
“You see all these other marching bands, and they’re always in the stands right next to the student section. We’re supposed to be together,” Sumrall said. “Being on the track (and in the endzone), I feel like we are separated from the whole football experience. Not many can see us or hear us. Last week when we played Karr, it was better than any game I had experienced.”
Athletic Director Craig Ketelsen, who is in charge of Hunter Stadium’s seating arrangement, says the students should count their blessings.
“The band is just as deserving as the students,” said Ketelsen. “If you look at other arenas, (you’ll see) that the section that the students sit now are pretty high-priced seats. Those are prime seats. The students should feel thankful that they have the wonderful seating we have been giving them.”
Some students think the band moving back to the small stands would help the situation. For the band, that’s not an option.
“There’s a huge gap (from the students), and we don’t really fit. It’s hard to fit in the big stands, but it’s harder to fit in the small stands,” said Sumrall, reiterating that the band is scarcely audible from the small stands.
“It’s where the band deserves to be,” said band director Andrew Moran regarding their current position with the student body. “Join the band, and then you’ll get to sit there. You’ll understand the work that they put in to get there. We give another band their own seats (in their student section). Everywhere else we go, we sit with the student section. We should be doing it in our own stands. It’s the way it should be. The student section has their own CD player right next to them.”