Turnout low for first day of Civil Rights Summit

Madlin Mekelburg

According to individuals at the Civil Rights Summit, attendance was low during the three panels held Tuesday, the first day of the summit.

The summit is being held at the LBJ Auditorium, which seats 967 people. Attendees received a ticket to see one of four presidents speak or to see all of the panels on one day of the summit. 

According to University spokesman Gary Susswein, all available tickets were distributed for the presidential addresses and daytime panels, so the turnout rates were not a result of lesser ticket distribution.

“We would assume that people are coming to what they’re able to come to and trying to be there the best they can,” Susswein said. “We would love for every seat to be filled at every moment, but we realize some people who hold tickets may need to go to class or go to work.” 

Susswein said there are currently no plans to compensate for low turnout potentials by issuing additional tickets for panels later in the week.

“Today was day one,” Susswein said. “If, going forward, we see there are ways to improve the process, we’ll take a look at them.”

According to Susswein, there were “virtually no empty seats” during the conversation between former President Jimmy Carter and LBJ Director Mark Updegrove on Tuesday night. 

Jerry Chang, supply chain management and public relations senior, said he attended all three of Tuesday’s panels: “Gay Marriage: A Civil Right?,” “Pathway to the American Dream: Immigration Policy in the 21st Century” and “Music and Social Consciousness.” According to Chang, the discussion on immigration policy had the highest turnout. 

“I don’t necessarily think it was a low turnout, but the amount of people that were there wasn’t what I was expecting,” Chang said. “I was just expecting there to be a lot more people.”