By Alexandra Gomes
Winter Commencement has been cancelled due to administrators’ concerns about accommodating the growing number of graduates and their families in DPAC, according to Dean of Students Melinda Stoops.
A committee made up of administrators from Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, the President’s Office, Facilities and Campus Events came together to evaluate the ceremony. They reached the conclusion that “a winter ceremony was no longer a viable option,” said Stoops.“The final decision was made at an executive level.”
As student participation in Winter Commencement grew, it became “increasingly difficult to manage with existing space,” said Stoops.
Guest tickets were limited to two per graduate because of this, which was “upsetting to a number of graduates, since they could not invite as many people as they would have liked,” said Stoops.
According to Executive Vice President Dale Hamel, last year’s winter ceremony cost $12,318.13, with over 100 graduates attending.
Students who graduate during the winter will now be invited to participate in the spring ceremony instead, but some students say they are not happy about the decision.
Hamel said the administration hopes students graduating this winter “won’t mind waiting a few extra months” in order to have more family members present at the ceremony.
He added, “I guess I would ... trade off having to attend a later commencement than having to severely restrict the number of passes for family members.”
According to President F. Javier Cevallos, Winter Commencement “started a handful of years ago.” As graduation classes grew in size, it “became more difficult to accommodate the families of the graduating seniors.”
He added, “Unfortunately we do not have a space large enough to accommodate all graduating seniors and families, so I decided to hold one large ceremony in the spring. I know this is an issue for this year’s seniors. My hope is that they will all return in May and celebrate their achievement!”
Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Vaden-Goad said, “The winter one sometimes wasn’t as spectacular. You’re in a more confined space, you sometimes don’t have the same type of speakers, you do have to limit people quite a bit. ... The goal is to have a beautiful commencement ceremony that’s really meaningful for the students.”
Vaden-Goad added the administration intends to encourage students who graduate in the winter to walk during the spring commencement. “It’s a meaningful moment in someone’s life to go through the commencement ceremony because it sort of says to oneself, ‘I have done this.’ ... It’s kind of anti-climatic if you don’t do something.”
Lauren Campbell, an FSU alumna, said she “liked how small the winter commencement was. It was more intimate and of course it was also shorter
“I liked having the option of deciding when to walk. Now that choice is taken from the ones graduating. The ones who wanted to walk this winter now have to wait to celebrate their accomplishments for five months. That’s a long time to wait after you’ve finished.”
Camille Bauer-Lostaunau, a senior, is planning to walk in the May ceremony, but is still “upset” about the winter graduation being cancelled.
Bauer-Lostaunau said a close friend of hers was planning to walk during winter commencement so he could “start his job with his degree in hand.” Now, he won’t be participating in a ceremony.
“I don’t think that’s fair at all,” said Bauer-Lostaunau. “Even though it would have been on a much smaller scale, he would have had a well-deserved commencement for his hard work at school.”
She added, “FSU has so many December/January graduates every year – maybe instead of cancelling an important graduation ceremony they should focus more on why this school has so many mid-year graduates.”
Brittany Wallace, a senior, said she is “one of the many students who will graduate in December but have to wait months to get the glory of walking.”
Wallace said she understands why the administration may not believe it’s “worth the money” to hold a winter commencement, but “the students do.
“We pay thousands of dollars and spend years paying it off for this degree, and to say to students that worked so hard to achieve this goal that you have to wait to be noticed is ridiculous.”
Hamel said the decision to cancel Winter Commencement was due to space, not cost.
Larnel Jones, an FSU alumnus, said the cancellation of Winter Commencement was “a slap in the face.
“People worked hard for it and a lot of people had to settle for Winter Commencement because they couldn’t finish on time, me included. To tell them they have to wait until spring is unfair.”
Sam Harnois, a sophomore, said he thinks the cancellation of Winter Commencement due to space is “probably because everyone got classes screwed up like me, and needed to wait another semester to take the classes they needed.”
Sharlynn Soto, a senior, said she is “highly disappointed and saddened” by the cancellation of Winter Commencement.
“One of the reasons I came to Framingham State University was because I would be able to have a commencement ceremony in December,” said Soto. “I think that they should have started the new policy in Fall 2016, not in the middle of the 2015 academic year.”