One-size graduation doesn’t fit all

Think back to high school graduation. It was a time to reflect on the past four years and a time to think about the future. To be clichŠ, high school graduation was closing one part of life. It brought a sense of closure, knowing there would not be a need to come back to that place.

Under Kent State President Lester Lefton’s new plan, there would only be one graduation ceremony a year in May. If implemented, students graduating in December would have to come back to Kent in May to have their names called in front of their peers. (August grads could participate early but would not received their diplomas until finishing their required coursework.) The university would hold one giant ceremony, and then the colleges would break off to have graduates’ names read aloud.

And while Lefton says this could allow Kent to bring a big name speaker to the graduation ceremony, this would also prolong the transitional phase when we stop being college students and start living in the real world. A once-a-year ceremony would also allow all students a chance to graduate together with their class. But do students really want that?

At a recent Undergraduate Student Senate meeting, some senators expressed concern that students will not want to come back five months after they finish classes and begin working. We agree.

This is a big university with a constant flow of people in and out. Students take summer classes, take semesters off, only take classes part-time and sometimes don’t figure out what they want to do with their lives until their junior year. There are tons of reasons why students don’t graduate on their set dates. This is a four-year university, but not everyone spends four years here. Increasingly, students wrap up work in summer and fall semesters.

It’s hard to end a part of your life five months later. People have already moved on. They have jobs and new lives. To come back to Kent to have a graduation ceremony might be worthless.

It doesn’t take much time to create a new life, and this could make a graduation ceremony unimportant. It may stop a lot of students who typically would have wanted to walk at graduation from doing so. For example, those who might be the first in their family to go to college understand the importance of turning their tassel, but if they have moved away, it could be hard to get a few days off work at the new job to come back to Kent.

Once we have paid our dues to this university, let us go in peace. There’s a time for everyone to leave Kent, and when we do, let’s leave knowing we did when we wanted to.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.