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Students in sleeping bags and tents line up for Dalai Lama ticketsAs the sun rose Wednesday around 7:30 a.m., the line of sleeping bags, tents, and students camped out to buy tickets for the Dalai Lama's April 25 visit to UC Berkeley already reached from Zellerbach Hall to the Sproul steps and beyond. (Scott Leblanc photo)

Berkeley students line up and around and around to see the Dalai Lama

| 11 March 2009

Veteran campus observers say this has happened only once before. It began Tuesday, when students began lining up for tickets, available 9 a.m. Wednesday, for a campus appearance by the Dalai Lama April 25. Then the line began to grow.

Late Tuesday night, a line of students, toting sleeping bags and lawn chairs and tents, stretched from the Zellerbach Auditorium box office, up the steps to Upper Sproul Plaza, and out to Telegraph Avenue. By Wednesday morning, the line had grown into a small city, snaking from the box office through the breezeway, along Strawberry Creek, down the length of Sproul Plaza, up the steps by the Sproul Hall’s south entrance, down Bancroft Way past Eshleman Hall, back into Lower Sproul Plaza — finally exhausting itself in Upper Sproul Plaza.

This is the line to obtain a "hold ticket.”

With a hold ticket in hand, you have the right to stand in a new line, to redeem it for an actual ticket. Or return during regular box-office hours, from March 11 to 15, to purchase a ticket.

Faculty and staff get to line up March 16 for their tickets to this Greek Theatre event; the public gets a crack at tickets starting at noon, March 23. Additional details of the talk, sponsored by the American Himalayan Foundation along with UC Berkeley's Richard C. Blum Center for Developing Economies, are online.

Berkeley seniors Brittany Berg and Yelena Filipchuk were near the front of the student line with their dog, Bra. They had been there all night. "There was no choice. We had to be here," said Berg.

"After we graduate, we are going to India,” added Filipchuk. Included in their itinerary: Dharamsala, the Himalayan town where the Tibetan government in exile, led by the Dalai Lama, has its seat. Tuesday marked the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, an attempt that was crushed by China, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee to India.

A ticket line of this magnitude has been seen once before on the Berkeley campus — in the mid-1990s, when the Dalai Lama made his first appearance at the Greek Theatre.

Students lined up for Dalai Lama tickets By midmorning the line snaked through Sproul Plaza, around the Martin Luther King Student Union and back again. (Jeffery Kahn/UC Berkeley photo)