By Justin Wier
Beginning this year, Youngstown State University students who are set to graduate in the summer will have to choose whether to participate in the spring commencement ceremony or return to walk in the fall.
The Academic Senate approved a proposal put forward by the Academic Events Committee eliminating summer commencement earlier this month.
Tacibaht Turel, a professor at YSU and the chair of the Academic Events Committee, said the provost’s office suggested they look into reorganizing commencement ceremonies.
“The major issue was that in the spring semester, we currently have two commencements — one for graduate students and one for undergraduate students,” Turel said. “The problem with that was the graduate’s commencement in the spring was not as big as the undergraduate commencement, and they didn’t have the full band for the event. And so, for the graduate students, they didn’t really feel it was as special for them as it was for the undergraduate students.”
The committee decided that instead of having separate commencements for graduate and undergraduate students, there should be two large ceremonies, each comprised of three colleges — one taking place in the morning and the other in the afternoon. With two larger ceremonies, students set to graduate in the summer will be able to be accommodated during spring commencement.
“There will be more room for [students’] parents and family and friends to be at the commencement because especially when we have had a big commencement speaker like previously we had to sell tickets, and it was very crowded. We weren’t able to allow everybody in. So we thought that this way they would be able to invite more people. They would have more room,” Turel said.
The committee also wanted to leave students’ options open in case spring wasn’t optimal.
“If they are graduating in the summer, and they don’t want to walk in the spring, we also gave them the option to walk in the fall if they want to. So that is a decision the students would make on their own. We wanted to give them two options just in case they feel like they may not be able to come back to campus if they get a job somewhere else,” Turel said.
Susanne Miller, a senior academic adviser for the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services, initially had concerns about logistics, but said they have been taken care of. But her and other advisers have still had to deal with disgruntled students.
“I’ve had several students in my office that were upset, and every adviser that I’ve talked to has addressed that, has had several students that were upset,” Miller said.
Miller said she understands the rationale behind the decision, but didn’t understand the need to put things into effect this summer as opposed to waiting a year.
“I wish that they would’ve made this decision for next year. I guess I just don’t understand why it had to happen now,” she said. “Maybe we could’ve waited a year, so that the student would’ve had a little more control over what they would’ve wanted to do.”
Turel said the decision to enact the changes this year was made by the provost’s office and wasn’t considered by the committee.
Lucas Politsky, a graduate student at YSU who serves on the Academic Events Committee, said the committee heard student concerns.
“I know there are some students who are a bit upset. They said they want to graduate as a class. They want to graduate with their friends. And I was explaining to them you still have that option. You all have to decide to graduate in spring, or you come back and graduate in fall. And I think most students who are graduating in the summer, they’ll just walk at commencement in spring,” Politsky said.
He also said it allows students graduating in the summer to have a more memorable commencement experience.
“One example that I looked at said, ‘I’m in this cohort, students in my class are graduating for the most part in spring, and maybe one or two people are going to graduate in the summer.’ Well, they want to walk with their friends … and it’s going to be a nicer time because everybody’s going to be there together, and it’s a bigger celebration. There are more people, and you have a better chance of getting a good commencement speaker,” Politsky said.
If it doesn’t work out, the decision can always be reversed in the future.
“This decision can stand, theoretically, until it could be changed again. So, say in a couple years it doesn’t work anymore,” Politsky said. “It can always be changed back because it can be ruled on by the Academic Senate.”