After receiving input from the student body, Provost Dr. Jonathan Sanford has decided to keep commencement on the Mall in May 2019, rather than host the celebration at the Toyota Music Factory.
This decision is based on input from the student body, who felt that the change would be too abrupt, Sanford said. However, Sanford plans to move commencement off-campus the following year after having had more time to receive input and prepare for the change.
This October, Sanford publicized the administration’s undecided position through Student Government (SG) and The University News in order to seek student input.
Recently, with the deadline to reserve the date with the Toyota Music Factory approaching, Sanford made the decision according to what he believed is the dominant sentiment among students.
“The town hall discussions and other discussions I’ve had, particularly with students who are graduating, seem to be that it would have felt like an abrupt change,” Sanford said.
“I was sincere when I said, ‘I think we should go off-campus but I really want to consult with people and see what they think,’ ” Sanford added. “A lot of people really didn’t want to [go off-campus], and the reasons are legitimate.”
However, Sanford does believe administration will move commencement off-campus the following year.
“If we forecast it this year so that rising seniors the following year sort of have it in their mind that this is the plan for the following year, then there’s time to prepare and think about it,” Sanford said.
Sanford welcomed input about the location of next year’s commencement.
“Another year to have it on-campus, and I’d be interested to see what people think about it with the idea in mind of going off-campus next year,” Sanford said.
“It’s just a size issue, we don’t have space on-campus [for commencement],” Sanford said.
SG president Clare Slattery said that student input was sought through the annual town halls for all four classes held this November and by listing this issue as one of the questions on a survey conducted at the town halls.
Overall, Slattery said that SG didn’t receive any “overwhelmingly negative” responses regarding moving commencement off-campus. However, she said that students were unsure and wanted to take time to consider the options.
Slattery added that celebrating commencement on-campus this year will allow time to prepare for the later transition, including receiving more student input through surveys and finding ways to organize commencement weekend with events both on and off-campus.
“I think that the solution that Dr. Sanford has communicated is the perfect compromise,” Slattery said.