Our View: Commencement overflow is unacceptable

Editorial Board

During the June 2 Board of Trustees meeting, President Lester Lefton described the recent commencement as “an extraordinary success with a couple thousand students graduating.” However, he did not mention the 510 people — 73 of them graduates — forced to watch a live feed of the ceremony from the KIVA and the Student Center Ballroom because of the overflow of people attending the event. Every graduate was able to walk across the stage, but 73 of them were not able to sit in on a celebration that was meant for them.

The university does not have a ticketing procedure for the ceremony but informs graduating students via e-mail alerts about the need to RSVP for the event. The university labeled the incident as “an unprecedented occurrence.” The provost’s office is currently working on recommendations to avoid this issue in the future and will present them to Lefton within the next week, according to Provost Robert Frank.

Kent State has apologized for the incident on its website and in individual e-mails to the students. Frank said the university will reconsider its commencement policies, and the 73 students will each receive a free DVD of the ceremony and pictures of them taken during graduation.

College graduations are supposed to be memorable moments that finalize a crucial part of a person’s life. After years of studying, graduates are anxious and happy to cross the stage to receive their degrees that prove they have worked hard for the past few years.

Never should graduates remember their college commencement as a miserable moment because they were unable to physically be there. College graduates should be able to recall that day with confidence and pride in their achievements, and it’s not as satisfying when experienced through a live feed.

Though Frank said it’s “not unusual” for guests to move to the KIVA when the ceremony overflows, there should have been a more effective procedure to avoid the disappointment of the graduates and their guests, who sometimes travel from afar to celebrate this moment with them. Many of the 73 graduates expressed their disappointment in tears, which should have been tears of joy after conquering such a huge milestone in their lives.