Commencement crisis coming
Posted December 2, 2005

For those of you who plan to graduate on Jan. 22, rather than wait until May, you’ve probably noticed that the distinctive aroma of an impending debacle has begun to waft over the campus.

Last year the University braintrust hatched the idea of holding a second graduation ceremony in January, in hopes of luring students from the increasingly crowded traditional ceremony at the end of May.

Well, their little plan worked well; the only problem was it worked a little too well. Seniors and super-seniors who would rather not stick around for, or, more importantly, pay for a superfluous semester made a stampede for this attractive new option. To say that the huge student response (some 900 applications) caught the team in charge of the January ceremony with their collective drawers down would be an understatement of mammoth proportions.

According to the official Commencement Web site, Commencement Director Ruby Montaño-Cordova and her staff “will be planning on a minimum of three (3) ceremonies.” Apparently, each ceremony can only accommodate a maximum of 200 candidates per ceremony. Additionally, each student will be getting a maximum of five guest tickets, meaning your dear, sweet grandma may have to catch your special day on tape. If the mere thought of that scenario gives you chills, you can defer your graduation date to the traditional Memorial Day Weekend date without penalty, since that ceremony will not have a guest limit. But if you’re absolutely dead set on walking next month, you’ll have to fill out a form informing the Commencement coordinators of your preference, but you won’t be allowed to change your mind. And you have a mere 7 days to submit the form. Isn’t bureaucracy swell?

But wait, there’s more! Although vital information like the exact times and locations of the ceremonies, reservation forms and links for ordering caps and gowns and other necessities was promised to be posted this past Monday, such items were not posted until yesterday. This might not have been such a big deal if the commencement crew’s vocabulary wasn’t limited to, “Keep checking the Web site.” A+ customer service, guys.

And keep in mind that all of the aforementioned foul-ups do not take into account the fact that the renovations at the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion are hopelessly behind schedule, meaning that if Mother Nature is unwilling to allow the ceremonies to take place on Ben Hines Field, and those odds are probably 50-50 at best, then the powers that be will have to find an indoor venue alternative, something they are apparently still trying to do as this is being written.

The bottom line, Leopards, is that the folks entrusted with making commencement the orderly, fun and memorable event we expect it to be, dropped the ball big time with this January’s ceremony. Granted, the delays in construction at the former Supertents were out of their hands, but the fact those same hands managed to botch the things they did have control over is simply unacceptable.

At the end of her damage control spiel, Montaño-Cordova wrote the following: “This scenario has created challenges but presents opportunities for our students. We look forward to presenting a memorable experience for you and your family.”
Here’s hoping it’s memorable for the right reasons.

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