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Graduation Restored

Graduation+Restored

Administration reverses graduation decision after Terrier backlash  

Students and alumni voiced disagreement after Provost Mike Sosulski’s initial email sent to the student body on Nov. 9 informed that graduation would be held in “a gorgeous, climate-controlled setting” –  the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium.  

After the email was sent out, the message traveled quickly around campus, according to several seniors. Senior Class Vice President Carter Rief ‘19 said, “We pretty quickly talked as senior class officers. We gathered and said ‘what do we do?’ considering the stats we had gotten from the fall survey [71.8% in favor of graduation on the lawn]? So, we had to talk to Samhat face to face and see why student input was not a part of the decision-making process.”  

Rief, and his fellow class officers, came to realize that there were no students on the Commencement Committee. Upon this realization, they asked that the senior class officers be allowed to sit in when the committee meets. All four of them now do.  

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A month after the announcement from Provost Sosulski, an anonymous petition entitled, “Wofford: Move Graduation back to the Lawn of Old Main,” was started via “Change.org.” The petition was shared by hundreds and signed by over 1,500. The petition was met by silence from administration.  

Despite the lack of administrator response, Wofford students continued to discuss the issue of a commencement location. Three months later, At-Large Delegate Emily Washburn ‘19 proposed a resolution to Campus Union entitled, “Resolution to Suggest that the Administration Consider Moving Graduation to the Lawn of Old Main,” containing a list of 12 reasons to consider. Some of the reasons cited on the resolution include:  

2. Since Old Main is the hub for academics, every student graduating from the College takes at least one class in Old Main,  

and 9. The stadium has been open for the Wofford men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the volleyball team, almost two seasons; however, it is not an academic building,  

and 10. If graduation is to be held inside the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium, there would be a limited number of tickets available to students and their families…  

and 11. Initially, the decision to switch the location of graduation to the Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium was largely made by the administration without direct input from the student body or the Class of 2019 as a whole,  

and 12. The Class of 2019 was polled in the Fall of 2018, inquiring which venue they would prefer to graduate in, and 91 of 131 people (71.8%) preferred graduation on the front lawn of Old Main.   

After a series of pro-con debates and questioning concerning the matter, Campus Union Secretary Jurnee Jones ‘21 conducted a standing vote with only three opposed, therefore passing the resolution.  

Washburn said, “I hoped that after the resolution passed, it would encourage the administration to take student input seriously. Even if the resolution didn’t change the location of graduation this year, I hoped that it would allow the administration to understand that student voices are crucial in these types of decisions and need to be considered in the future.” 

Two days after the resolution passed, students received an email, this time from Wofford News rather than the Provost, informing that baccalaureate and graduation would be held on the front lawn of Old Main, weather permitting. The email also stated that the JRIS will serve as the rain location for both events in the event of inclimate weather.  

The class of 2019 will convene where their first orientation commencement was held: Old Main.

Caption: We will see you here on May 19, Terriers! 

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