Clay Causes Commotion at Graduation

12/01/2003 at 09:57 AM EST

Students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte are protesting the school's quota system after being told that they can only have seven tickets each to attend the upcoming graduation ceremony -- which is slated to feature "American Idol" star Clay Aiken.

Last week, about 500 students signed a petition labeling the ticket policy "unfair" and asking university leaders to meet with students to consider alternatives, the Associated Press reports.

"We're just not being treated right," Cody Willets, the senior leading the effort, tells AP.

The university says it is limiting tickets because Aiken 24, is now finishing an independent study course at UNCC and is expected to collect his Bachelor of Arts degree in special education at the Dec. 20 ceremony.

The school also says that the graduation class is large in number. More than 1,000 students are eligible, says AP.

But the students who want the tickets said the university didn't get around to announcing the seven-ticket limit until they had already invited friends and family to attend graduation.

Upcoming graduate Sherry Vadney proposes that the university come up with an extra ceremony to accommodate everyone. "We don't have a problem with Clay," Vadney said. "He's not requesting any special treatment. We just feel like there are other options."

Willets hopes to collect 1,000 more signatures on Monday, when classes resume after Thanksgiving, and meet with university officials on Tuesday.

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