Our View: graduation commencement

Graduation is a major event in most students’ lives and is a day of celebrating hard-earned achievements, but the upcoming May 2017 ceremonies seem to be causing more concern and confusion than excitement among students.
“If you are planning on graduating in May 2017 please read,” was the first line of an email sent by the Registrar’s Office Sept. 14 addressing a change in the May 2017 commencement ceremonies. The email went on to explain that because Stokes Stadium — the usual location of graduation — will be undergoing major renovations between January and August 2017, the commencement ceremonies will instead take place in Pershing Arena. Though we, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, recognize a decision had to be made in a timely manner regarding the change in venue, we think the issue could have been addressed in a more detailed manner.
The email said more information about the ceremonies will not be sent out until mid-March 2017 and asked students to contact the Registrar’s Office with questions or to request more information about the change. We, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, have exactly that — a list of questions.
The email indicates tickets are not needed by those attending the ceremonies, but it does not say how they plan to address the issue of the limited seating Pershing offers. Where will those who come later sit when all the seats in the arena are filled? Will there be standing room? Will that standing room be enough? Will there be enough accommodations for the older attendees and handicapped? We, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, find it difficult to feel comfortable with this decision when no logistical information about the new ceremonies has been provided, and there is none coming out any time soon. Not having more specific details until March 2017 will also make arranging lodging difficult for those coming to Kirksville for the ceremonies, not to mention the stress it will put on students who plan to send out graduation announcements.
The announcement also fails to address the issue of breaking up the ceremonies into different sessions, a consequence of the inability to fit everyone into Pershing at once. Though the email did include a rough schedule for the ceremonies — which divides graduation into three sections depending on degree — it did not address when those who have a double major should plan to attend. If, say, a student is earning their BA in English and their BS in accounting, do they attend the 9-11 a.m. session for BAs, the 1-3 p.m. session for BSs in accounting, or both? It seems students will have to wait until March to know the answer. The breaking up of ceremonies would make it more difficult for students to attend the ceremonies of their fellow students and friends, not to mention the extra logistical planning those attending the ceremonies will need to do.
Setting aside the time and space issues, what we, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, found most frustrating about the situation was the apparent lack of student input in the change of location. All information students have received so far seems very out of touch with the situation and includes many steps students have to take to learn more. The vagueness of information adds stress to students already focused on planning their futures after graduation. The change in location was approved by the Board of Governors and the President’s Office, but we, the Truman Media Network Editorial Board, think there should have been more opportunity for student input — even just a forum or poll of possible new locations for the ceremonies. We encourage students to reach out to the Registrar’s Office to address issues and concerns they have about the ceremonies, but more so we encourage students to ask for an opportunity to give their input on the new location for the ceremonies in May — a location where all students can graduate together and all family members and friends can gather to support them without limitations. Graduation is an event for students to celebrate their achievements, and we believe they deserve the right to be included in decisions about the celebration.