A final decision has been made. If weather allows this year’s graduating class will receive their diplomas in Richard L. Jantz Stadium.
However getting to this decision wasn’t an easy one. It took five seniors, one junior, and Dick Merriman, president, to come to an agreement.
“I wanted commencement to be a great moment for our seniors, so having heard what they wanted. I think we have figured it out,” said Merriman.
Last year’s commencement was in Stewart Field House because the stadium was under construction. There were three separate ceremonies. “I thought that worked well because we didn’t want to worry about bad spring weather,” said Merriman.
He said he sat down with the six students: Katie Gomez, communication senior, Josh Plummer, business administration senior, Anjaih Clemons, business administration senior, Taggart Wall, history senior, Kaydee Johnson, business administration senior and Caitlin McCurdy, psychology junior. Johnson is senior class president and McCurdy is Student Government Association president. During the conversation, Merriman took them through the rationale of last year.
“But they said they wanted to have commencement in the in the stadium. I understand completely why they want that. It’s a brand new stadium. It’s beautiful. They are picturing a huge crowd and a beautiful sunny spring afternoon. We have commencements like that, but we also have some where it’s raining,” said Merriman.
Weather didn’t seem to be a concern for Johnson, but her thoughts were deciding on a location based on what the senior class wanted. “My peers really desired to graduate in the new stadium. I also knew that if we didn’t graduate in the stadium it was likely that would set precedent for following classes,” she said.
McCurdy said the students went in with the location being in the new stadium. “It was a pretty honest conversation. He really took what we had to say. He listened and acted on what we wanted,” she said. “Pretty much everyone in the room wanted to graduate in the stadium and no one wanted graduate in the field house.”
There is, however the weather concern Merriman has with commencement taking place in the stadium. The plan is to have commencement at 1 p.m. on May 8 in the stadium for bachelor’s recipients. All master recipients will have a separate ceremony at 5 p.m. May 8 in Stewart Field House.
In case of bad weather, the ceremonies will be moved to Stewart and split into two. The Bachelors of Science ceremony will be at 1 p.m. All Bachelors of Arts recipients and Bachelors of Science in biology will follow at 3 p.m.
Merriman said, “It seemed to have solved it.” He also said he made this final decision. “Anything that I decide is on me. It’s not on them. I wasn’t trying to cover my butt by trying to get some seniors to agree with me, so this decision isn’t theirs. I just wanted to make sure I understood what they wanted,” he said.
However, McCurdy believes the input the students had made a huge impact on Merriman’s decision. “I think that if it were up to him and the administration, it would be just like last year, but none of us wanted that and I really think he listened to us, and really cared about what we thought, and I think the six of us were part of the decision,” she said.
Whatever the outcome, Johnson said she is pleased with the results. “I have always thought that the administration here at SC has done a good job of listening and responding to student needs and desires.”
One other change to commencement weekend is the location of the Honors Ceremony and the Baccalaureate Service. “Just like last year we didn’t have the stadium, this year we don’t have the auditorium,” said Merriman.
Both ceremonies will be in Stewart Field House. “Hopefully next year we have all of the facilities back and we can get settled into a set pattern we can stick with,” said Merriman.
The question still remains if the next senior class will go through the same process of deciding on a location. McCurdy said she hopes she gets to graduate in the stadium next year. “The school is constantly trying to recruit, expand and build. The process is going to have to evolve with the changes in the number of students. So one day this whole process is going to have to change,” she said.
Alejandra Rojas is a senior majoring in communication. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.