Elon University experienced backlash from students and families after sending a letter last fall explaining that because of School of Communications construction, seniors’ families would be limited to four Commencement tickets.
After receiving an overwhelmingly negative response to the announcement, Elon moved Commencement in front of Alamance Building. The stage will be set up in front of the flagpoles facing Haggard Avenue, and the seats will be set up directly across on the lawn in front of Moseley.
“I have a big family, and my twin brother, my parents, my aunt and my grandma all wanted to come,” said senior Elle Thompson. “They said we’d only have four, which was kind of a bummer. I was definitely a fan of moving it, just because of the fact that there would be more tickets available. I do love the tradition of under the oaks, but I think that it’s a nice ceremony no matter where it is, and I’d rather have everyone there.”
Some people’s desire to uphold the Commencement tradition outweighed their anger over the ticket limitations.
“A lot of my friends were really upset about the move,” said senior Courtney Crowell. “I do agree the break in tradition is not ideal, but I think Elon has such a beautiful campus that it didn’t really matter where the ceremony actually was as long as my friends and family were there to enjoy the experience with me. Obviously I would prefer under the oaks for tradition, but I think it’s kind of cool that we are the first class to be in the new location.”
After the backlash over ticket limitations, the university sent out a survey to the Class of 2016 to see what the soon-to-graduates preferred.
“I don’t know how much they actually took it into account, but I thought it was really nice how they sent out a survey,” Thompson said. “That gave us a voice, and everyone’s really opinionated, so that was very cool that they cared to ask us.”
Crowell agreed and said she appreciated SGA including the student body in the decision-making. She said being able to have a voice about where she wanted to graduate was “very indicative of my Elon experience overall.”
“I knew my family was coming in from several states, so I didn’t want them travelling so far if they couldn’t see me graduate,” she said.
There is rain in the forecast for Commencement, though.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 90 percent chance of rain Friday night and Saturday with showers and a chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.
This report is as of Wednesday afternoon.
Should rain make it impossible to hold Commencement outside, the university hopes to announce if the rain plan will be implemented at 8 p.m. Friday.
Of course, with the unpredictability of the weather, the university acknowledged that the decision might not be made until 6 a.m. Saturday.
Should the rain plan be implemented, there will be two separate, identical Commencement ceremonies based on degree. Students graduating with a Bachelor of the Arts degree will graduate at 9:15 a.m. in Alumni Gym, while students receiving Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration will graduate at 1:15 p.m. in Alumni Gym.
If rain isn’t a factor, Commencement will begin at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, May 21 in front of Alamance Building. CNN political analyst David Gergen will deliver the undergraduate Commencement address. Retired Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court Henry E. Frye will deliver Elon’s Baccalaureate address to graduates and their families at 3 p.m. Friday, May 20 in Alumni Gym.