Students up in arms over commencement changes

By on March 25, 2009

Fanfare is to be expected regarding commencement services. But an outcry like the one Quinnipiac has seen is not usually part of the agenda.

On March 4, all Quinnipiac students received an e-mail regarding a change in the University’s commencement ceremony, set to take place in 2010. This year, like previous years, the seniors will graduate in a ceremony in front of the Arnold Bernhard Library. However, starting in 2010, two separate ceremonies will both be held at the TD Banknorth Sports Center at the York Hill Campus. Communications and business students will have their commencement at 10 a.m., while health science and arts and sciences students will have theirs at 3 p.m.

One of the main reasons for this decision was because the size of each class continues to grow each year. Last year over 12,000 people attended the commencement. According to the memo sent out to students from Vice President for Public Affairs, Lynn Bushnell, “The University’s Commencement Committee has looked at ways to maintain a personalized ceremony that will be memorable to our graduates and their families.”

The administration says that the aim of the new graduation ceremonies is to create an intimate and personal atmosphere. 2010 is also the first year that sufficient parking will be available for the commencement. According to the memo, “Not only will our guests have much-improved views of the exercises, we also anticipate a more personal atmosphere that will be rich in tradition and meaning.”

However, this decision has angered many Quinnipiac students. A Facebook group titled “Say ‘No Thanks’ to TD Banknorth. Let’s graduate on OUR campus!” was formed. Within one day of the creation of the group, it had over 700 members. Currently, it has over 1,000.

The decision left many students wondering why they had not heard anything sooner.

“Where was the student input?”junior Jennifer Walts, SGA junior class representative asked. Walts is also one of the administrators of the Facebook group.

“We have a year. there is time for change,” Lindsey Campanelli, junior class president, said.

Campanelli and other SGA members met with Bushnell, who told students to pursue change if they were passionate about it.

“Student reactions have been negative, and I cannot speculate as to whether or not there is an opportunity for further discussion,” Bushnell said. “That is a matter for the junior class and the SGA to take up.”

The main problem with the decision is the location.

“There is accountability with tradition,” Campanelli said. “We went to school here, not there.”

Out of all the concerns that the SGA received, the majority of them concerned the location of the graduation, and not the split ceremony.

“We have this beautiful campus here,” Walts said. “We don’t want to sit and get our diplomas there.”

Many students agree with Walts.

“It’s interesting to see that students are coming together to make changes they are all passionate about,” Walts said.

A petition began last Wednesday at the SGA meeting and read “For years, Quinnipiac University held the tradition of graduating on the quadrangle. By signing this document, I hereby declare my discontent with the decision to relocate Quinnipiac University’s graduation ceremony from the traditional quadrangle to the TD Banknorth Sports Center.”

Both Walts and Campanelli agreed that the overall goal of the petition was to change the location of the undergraduate commencement. Also, they would like to see all graduates come together at the end of the ceremonies and the addition of a keynote speaker to the ceremony. Plans include continuing to add signatures and gather support to prepare everything to send to Bushnell and the President’s cabinet tomorrow morning.


About Christine Gertsch