Even though there has been recent speculation about altering this year’s commencement ceremony plans, Seton Hall sent out an email on Tuesday, Feb. 7 that graduation will be broken down into three separate ceremonies and will be held in the Richard and Sheila Regan Fieldhouse in the University’s Recreation Center.
The student body received the email from the Office of the Provost before the University closed for the evening. The email outlined the schedule for graduation, which will be held on May 15. There will be three ceremonies, one at 8:30 a.m., the next at 1 p.m., and the final ceremony being held at 6 p.m.
The 8:30 a.m. ceremony includes graduates from the College of Communication and the Arts, the College of Education and Human Services, and the College of Nursing. The 1 p.m. graduation will include all students in the Stillman School of Business, the School of Theology, and the School of Diplomacy and International Relations. The final ceremony at 6 p.m. will celebrate those graduating from the College of Arts and Sciences. All three ceremonies will take place in the fieldhouse with a simulcast in the Walsh Gymnasium.
When it was originally released that this year’s graduation ceremony will not be held at the Prudential Center as it has been in previous years, there was uproar from the student body. Since then, the Office of the Provost, specifically Bernadette McVey, director of Academic Events, Initiatives and Planning, had been actively searching for a solution.
McVey expressed her deepest condolences for those who are upset over the change in graduation plans this year. After it came to her knowledge that the Prudential Center was booked for the original graduation date, she said she looked toward other venues.
McVey and a number of representatives from Seton Hall, including Student Government Association (SGA) President Teagan Sebba, looked into both Metlife Stadium as well as Red Bull Arena. Red Bull Arena at first seemed to be an alternative, but there were a number of issues with the venue. Graduates would have to sit in the bleachers as opposed to on the field, and that posed a hazard, specifically for women who would choose to wear heels to commencement, McVey said. The Office of the Provost believed the problem could be easily resolved with a notification for the graduates to wear flats.
Ultimately, despite the work of the Office of the Provost, Red Bull Arena also ended up being booked for a soccer game the previous night and it would be impossible to set up the commencement ceremony in time, McVey said.
When it became evident that the only option available to the University was to hold graduation on campus, those in charge of the ceremony still actively tried to make a single ceremony so that all graduates could celebrate together, McVey said. Holding commencement on the baseball field was an option, however, the number of tickets each graduate would receive was a huge factor, she said. If the ceremony were to be outside, only two tickets would be given to each graduate. By breaking up the ceremony into three smaller commencements, each student would be able to have an additional 5 tickets.
McVey said she remains positive about the cards that she has been dealt. She hopes that the location shift from Prudential Center to campus inspires more school spirit.
Adrianna Bertoldi, a senior nursing major, is upset about the three separate ceremonies, as she is a triplet. Bertoldi and her two brothers are going to graduate separately.
“My one brother is in the Stillman School of Business and the other is in the College of Arts and Sciences. After receiving the email from the Office of the Provost, it came to my attention that we will not be able to receive our diplomas together,” Bertoldi said. “Graduation is especially sentimental for us because we are the first in our family to ever graduate from college.”
Another aspect about graduation that is unsettling for seniors is the fact that there will now be a limited number of tickets available for family and friends who wish to attend the ceremony. Only seven tickets will be available to each graduate, and three of those tickets are for seats in the gym, where guests can view the ceremony via simulcast, said the email.
Robin Nagel, a senior majoring in English in the College of Arts and Sciences, is most upset about the limited number of tickets available to her.
“Just counting immediate family members, I need a minimum of 11 tickets,” Nagel said. “For a Catholic institution that supposedly upholds family values, mine are certainly being sent through the sewage system.”
This is Nagel’s first graduation she will ever take part in and she is upset that these new developments are going to take away from the significance of the event.
“I’m actually a high school dropout who completed her GED and then applied to Seton Hall, so I’ve been looking forward to the pomp and circumstance of graduating surrounded by my family and friends since I began here in August 2013,” Nagel said.
The livestream of graduation has been the source of ire for Nagel. “I’m mainly angry that I have to tell certain members of my family that the only way they are going to see my graduation is via webcast in the gym. It’s just not the grandiose way Seton Hall seems to like to say things are done around here,” Nagel added.
Despite the criticism, McVey remains optimistic.
“The University is spending more on this graduation than what we would’ve spent if it ended up being at Prudential,” McVey said.
The increased cost is partly because of the cameras that will be used during the ceremony. The University is planning on using cameras to broadcast the graduates lining up on campus, as well as their procession with bagpipes and bells to the Fieldhouse, McVey said.
McVey also pointed out a number of positives to holding commencement on campus. Since there will now be three ceremonies, commencement will be shorter. In addition, guests and students will not have to pay for parking like they would have to if the ceremony were to be at Prudential.
“Seton Hall is a beautiful campus in the spring,” said Dr. Joan Guetti, senior associate provost. “The opportunities for commencement souvenirs is going to be very appealing for graduates.”
In addition, the Office of the Provost said that events for the whole senior class to come together in the weeks leading up to graduation are in the works. Plus, the Office of the Provost is actively seeking options for either commencement speakers or performers to satisfy graduates.
Despite all the setbacks that have been thrown her way, McVey has continued to actively search for alternatives and has been answering numerous phone calls from upset students and families.
“Bernadette has agonized over this,” Guetti said.
In response, McVey commented, “I love commencement. The fact that it has a shadow over it breaks my heart.”
Some students, although upset, are still remaining hopeful.
Miles Nash, a senior economics major in the Stillman School of Business, said, “Although it is a little disappointing that I will be unable to graduate alongside some of my brothers who are studying within different schools at Seton Hall, I still plan on making the most of the situation to enjoy my graduation. After all, it is still a great accomplishment regardless of how graduation pans out.”
Megan O’Malley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.