University of La Verne seniors are upset about scheduling changes made to this year’s commencement. Ruby Montaño-Cordova, associate dean of student affairs, made these changes without consulting or notifying the graduating class.
Saturday, May 27, was set to be the graduation date for seniors in the Colleges of Arts & Sciences, Business and Public Management and Education and Organizational Leadership. Following January’s commencement, Montaño-Cordova changed the date and decided to separate the ceremonies.
“The reality is right now there is no way to reconsider,” said Montaño-Cordova. “In this situation, I had to make the decision based on my experience.”
“I didn’t even go to the commencement committee,” she added.
She said that things could have been worse if the committee had been consulted but was unable to come to an agreement. Graduates could have been waiting until April to hear about changes made to their commencement.
Friday, May 26, is the new graduation date for Arts and Sciences students. The School of Business and Public Management and College of Education students will still graduate on Saturday.
“We don’t know until February how many students we have graduating, so I was unable to notify the students earlier,” Montaño-Cordova said.
Last week, mass e-mails went out to notify students.
“I found out last week or the week before,” said Glennda Bivens, a senior liberal arts major. “My family already made arrangements to come out for graduation on the 27th.”
Many graduating seniors are upset because their families will have to change hotel and flight plans. But on top of that, seniors feel disrespected because they were not involved in the planning.
“No students were present for commencement planning,” said Rida Fatima, vice president of Associated Students of the University of La Verne.
“To make this split without consulting the graduating class is an insult,” said Adrianna Gardner, senior creative writing major. “It speaks volumes.”
Bivens took the issue to ASULV.
“I pushed for them to get a petition going,” Bivens said. “How dare they not include us in the process.”
“We got more than 160 signatures, and the petition was submitted to Ruby,” Fatima said. “She didn’t change the program, but she’s allowing students to change ceremonies.”
E-mails were sent to 203 graduates from the colleges of business and education. Graduates were offered the chance to change to the Friday ceremony to graduate with their friends who might be in that ceremony.
Montaño-Cordova is hoping that this will ease students’ concerns, but some feel that the administration does not value them.
“Our opinions don’t matter. This is the biggest let down,” Gardner said. “This school never seems to fail me on the bureaucratic, political stuff they try to pull.
“Some way to send future alumni donors away,” she added “The parking is crap; the food is crap; the least they can give us is a less than crappy commencement.”
If the change of date were not inconvenient enough, imagine the traffic coming into La Verne at 6 p.m. on a Friday for graduation.
Being this is the first commencement ceremony to be divided by colleges, students at the University are not accustomed to separate ceremonies. At larger universities, separate ceremonies are commonplace because of large graduating classes. But Montaño-Cordova thinks that commencement may continue to be separated because it better accommodates graduates, their guests and faculty.
“With 900 to 1,000 graduates, it could take three and a half hours for one ceremony,” Montaño-Cordova said. “The logical thing was to divide commencement by colleges.”
Her decision was based on concern for parking, safety and liability, capacity and economics.
Main campus and regional campus students from the same colleges will graduate at the same ceremonies, greatly increasing the number of attendees.
The estimated number of graduates for Friday’s ceremony is 400 to 500, but that may change because business and education graduates might change to the Friday ceremony.
Saturday is broken into two ceremonies.
If all ceremonies were to be on Saturday, one would have to take place at noon when the day is hottest. Montaño-Cordova had to consider health issues because some guests and faculty may not be able to stay in the sun for a long time.
She also had to consider parking issues. Parking is enough of a problem as it is; the University’s limited amount of parking would not accommodate all graduates and their guests.
A combined ceremony would also take more than three hours and many guests would not stay for the entire program.
“There’s a better chance of everyone staying to honor each graduate if the ceremony is two hours or less,” Montaño-Cordova said. “You’ve gotta bite the bullet and make the decision.”
She said she was supportive of the students and she respected their strong opinions.
“The decisions that had to be made were the best decisions,” she added. “They weren’t my preference, so they were hard to make. The students handled the petition respectfully and I’m glad they voiced their opinion.”
Eric Iberri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.