Family members are not invited to graduation commencement convocation May 9, 2010. Not all family members, at least. Immediate family members are to receive tickets to attend, but other family members are being turned away. What has become the most anticipated moment in a young adult’s life will be shared with a selected few.
Plans were made to build a new stadium and raze the old one, which has been in use since 1947. The campus community was told that the new Richard L. Jantz Stadium would open for the new football season during the following school year. Sounds like a decent plan, for football fans. No one pointed out that the graduation ceremony, which has previously taken place at Sonner Stadium, would be shoved into the crowded walls of Stewart Field House. It’s only the class of 2010. No big deal. The stadium will be ready for the class of 2011.
The class of 2010 has reason to be bitter, but should not point fingers of blame. Plans to tear down Sonner Stadium have been in talks for a long while and were well-known last semester. If a student had concerns about graduation, they should have spoken up before Sonner Stadium turned into a vast sea of mud with the occasional construction vehicle sailing along. Then again, a reminder about where graduation is going to take place would have been ideal.
No one speaks up when the time is right. No one asks questions. Everyone goes with the flow. Did anyone question why North Hall, the original building on campus, was torn down in 1950? The state fire marshal condemned the building and it was then demolished. At the time it seemed easier to build a new academic building, than repair the existing one. It was not worth it. The time and money should have been put fourth to preserve the history of the school. The only remains of the building rest as a stage on the hill near the library where the year 1886 stands as a sad reminder.
Maybe tearing down the stadium was the wrong decision. New is nice, for a while. Athletes will look at the new stadium and say, “This school is serious about athletics.” This may be a deciding factor for such students, but ten years down the road, that stadium will not be new, nor will it be historic. The fresh scent does not last long. A wiser decision may have been to update the former structure. Now the stadium is gone. It’s too late. The wild growth of trees is gone. The bridge is gone. Part of Southwestern’s history is gone.
Plans for the new stadium do look sharp, and could have been applied to the familiar one, which is no longer standing.
The situation is frustrating for seniors who want to invite basically everyone to their graduation, but proves to be annoying on other levels as well. The suggested senior gift to the school is a bench in the new stadium. A bench. A flat support someone sits on. The class of 2010 may not be so keen to give the school a fraction of the stadium that booted their graduation. Yet someone thought this was a good idea. Perhaps someone should speak up.
While some things manage to slip by, others should not. Now is the time to speak.
The only other graduation location under consideration is the fair grounds. Students have expressed they would prefer to graduate on campus. After all, the majority of the class of 2010 has spent the last four years of their lives on these grounds. This place means something to them. Four selected seniors will meet with President Merriman Feb. 12 to discuss the issue.