According to an email sent to graduating seniors by Vicky Triponey interim vice president for Student Affairs, departmental ceremonies will be held in five sessions occurring on Thursday, May 16 and Friday, May 17. The main ceremony will be held on Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m.
According to Heather Fehn, executive assistant to the president and secretary to the Board of Trustees, in case of severe weather, the main ceremony will be moved to Friday morning, which will allow the ceremony to remain in the stadium rather than the Recreation Center.
There were numerous reasons for implementing this change, according to Christina Kopka, Student Government president.
For example, there is lack of adequate and attractive space for all departmental ceremonies to be held in one day. Some departments graduate students in tents and others in less attractive parts of campus.
In addition, in case of severe weather, ceremonies that take place under tents must be moved to inside rooms, resulting in overlap.
The field is also about 10 degrees hotter than other outside areas. Avoiding heat-related issues on the field during the main ceremony and keeping families comfortable and safe was also a main concern.
“Graduation has never happened this way before so, like all students, I don’t know what it will be like,” Kopka said. “I think the overall success of both days is going to depend on the attitude students have and how willing everyone is to be flexible and embrace change.”
According to Kopka, many logistical issues have made a one-day graduation difficult. The College does not want to limit the number of guests students can bring to the ceremonies; however, this means a greater need for large spaces that don’t exist in large numbers on campus.
Also, the schedule for graduation in one day previously left students and families running from one ceremony to another, which made for a stressful experience rather than an enjoyable one.
In addition, traffic has been a major concern in the past because parking is limited and the number of vehicles coming to campus has backed up surrounding roads.
Although there are some advantages to separating graduation into two days, many students have voiced concerns about their families having to choose between attending just one day of graduation or staying in a hotel overnight.
“Students have been pretty vocal about these changes and are frustrated that the change was made with little student input and that the announcement hadn’t been made sooner,” Kopka said. “I have brought this issue up with the organizers of graduation to ensure that students are heard and that the process is more transparent next year.”
Students should expect to receive more information regarding graduation in the beginning of March.
“Our primary goal for commencement is to ensure you and your families have the very best experience and most fitting opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments,” Triponey said.