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AU MEN’S BASKETBALL

Auburn creates new accommodations in The Jungle, hearing concerns from student with mobility impairments

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Auburn is creating reserve seating for mobility-impaired students in the student section in Auburn Arena, the school announced in an email to students Friday, answering concerns from a student with disabilities who felt squeezed out during the recent surge in interest in men’s basketball and the spike in difficulty in getting into the student section for games.

Throngs of students camped out overnight for Auburn’s showdown with Kentucky last weekend, eagerly rushing in to claim their spot in the bleachers once the gates finally opened two hours before tipoff.

Noah Griffith, a student living with neuromuscular disease Friedreich’s Ataxia, penned a column last week published in the student paper the Plainsman detailing the difficulty people with disabilities would have waiting out in the cold, and his own difficulty getting to his seat during that rush that started once the doors opened.

While Auburn Arena is ADA compliant, Griffith argued that having a wheelchair-accessible seating row isn’t enough to accommodate students with mobility impairments.

“Things need to change,” he wrote.

Less than a week later, Auburn has made changes.

In an email sent to students Friday offering entry information to students for Friday’s gymnastics meet and Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Oklahoma, Auburn listed new instructions for students with mobility impairments on how to reserve seating.

“A limited number of reserved accessible seats in Auburn Arena’s student section are available for students with mobility impairments,” the email reads. “All special accommodations for accessible seating for Auburn University students should be made in advance by contacting the Office of Accessibility at 334-844-2096 or accessibility@auburn.edu.

“Students who receive the reserved accessible seats will be given special instructions for entrance,” the email goes on. “All requests should be made by 12:00 pm the day before the game. Special accommodations will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Griffith posted to Twitter on Friday: “I asked, Auburn answered. My column made an impact and mobility-impaired students will now be able to reserve seats in The Jungle.”

All told, Auburn is new to overnight lines and such high demand for student section seating. While Auburn students have packed out The Jungle plenty of times before, last weekend’s overnight wait — which saw some students begin to line up outside the student section entry at noon Friday, 24 hours before tipoff at noon Saturday — is a bit unlike anything Auburn athletics has experienced before.

The Auburn men’s basketball team climbed to No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time ever last Monday.

Auburn continues its season Saturday when the Tigers host Oklahoma in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge — and now the game will be just as accessible as ever for all Auburn students.

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