Seton Hall emailed seniors a two-question survey on Sept. 19 about the 2018 commencement, which gave the graduating class an opportunity to voice their opinions.
The survey asked seniors what they thought should be eliminated for the sake of time. The choices were to get rid of a commencement speaker, the procession, or the reading of each individual name. There was also an option to keep everything.
Co-chairs of the Commencement Planning Committee include director of Academic Events, Initiatives and Planning, Bernadette McVey, and University Registrar Mary Ellen Farrell, according to McVey.
McVey said via email that the 2017-2018 Commencement Committee has not been finalized, but it will include student representation.
“This broadly-based committee also includes representation from each college and the various offices that are involved in commencement planning and operations,” McVey said.
Speaking about what the committee hopes to gain from the survey, McVey said, “The data collected will give us insight to what our graduating seniors think is important to their ceremony.”
Asked if the committee is considering to cut any part of the ceremony, McVey said, “Since the Committee has not been finalized at this point, we have not had a chance to consider specific questions about the ceremony and other celebratory events associated with the commencement ceremony.”
The survey will close at the end of this week and “results will be shared with the committee for its further deliberations,” McVey said. “Along with these results, the co-chairs will share with the committee how prior ceremonies were constructed, so the committee has a full understanding of how best to fashion this year’s events.”
Seniors had differing opinions on what, if anything, should be cut from the ceremony.
Phil Buccigrossi, a senior biology major, filled out the commencement survey and was happy that SHU asked seniors for their opinion.
Buccigrossi said he would eliminate the procession and commencement speaker, however, if there were other options he would not get rid of the procession. He said he thinks graduation should just be the reading of the names.
“Long graduations are tedious, hearing that last year’s was over three hours makes me not want to go to my own,” he wrote in an email.
Buccigrossi said that the speakers at commencement mostly talk about their own story and accomplishments or try to give the graduating class some advice.
“Having someone speak to us [graduating seniors] does not change anything or make us feel better or worse,” he said. “I am confident in my ability to make it in the world, I don’t need a speaker to tell me for 40 minutes that I can do it.”
Buccigrossi also said that the audience does not want to sit there for over three hours when they are only there to watch one or two students they know “walk across the stage and have their moment.”
“Graduation is definitely important and exciting, however just like a pointless research paper certain classes make us write, we need to cut out the fluff and focus on what is really important, our accomplishments,” he said.
Alyssia Pacheco, a senior broadcasting interactive and visual media major, completed the survey too. She wrote in an email interview that she would like the graduation ceremony to be shorter if possible because it “was a little bit excessive” last year.
Pacheco said she would not eliminate anything from graduation, but she would shorten the speeches and main parts of commencement.
“The time of each section should be limited a little bit more because it does get kind of boring even though the content is very well written,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco acknowledged that the reading of each individual name takes time. However, she would keep this at graduation because “there is still an excitement when it comes to hearing your name announced after you’ve worked so hard for years.”
Pacheco added, “I feel that a lot of people are disappointed in the fact that we have been without a commencement speaker for a while, and we would love to have the opportunity to have a speaker that is a public figure to be able to give us words of wisdom at our graduation.”
Allison Yashay, a senior marketing major also filled out the commencement survey and said she wants graduation to be shorter by cutting one of the main parts out.
Yashay said the reading of each individual name takes too long and that it should be cut. She said the commencement speaker and procession should be kept.
She added she hopes that graduation will be at the Prudential Center, instead of the PNC Bank Arts Center, where last year’s ceremony was held.
Not every senior filled out the survey or was aware it was sent out.
Senior mathematics majors Emily Giannini and Dan Letso did not hear about the commencement survey, but they did have opinions on what graduation should be like.
Giannini said she would keep graduation that same, but if something has to go she said the procession is the most practical thing to cut.
Letso said he would eliminate the procession and it is important to keep the reading of the names. “It’d be cool to listen to a commencement speaker, I’ve always enjoyed that, even in high school,” he said.
Letso added, “It’s important everyone can bring as many people as they want,” and that it should be taken into consideration for graduation.
Both Giannini and Letso said they would like to graduate at the Prudential Center, if they can graduate as one big class instead of graduating by each individual college within the University.
McVey added, “Commencement is a time to recognize the hard work and achievements of our graduating seniors, honor the incredible support that the faculty, staff and administration has provided and to express gratitude to the families for their unwavering commitment.”
Samantha Todd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.