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An Open Letter To VCU’s Combined Graduation Ceremonies

As many of you know, especially if you are graduating this spring, VCU has decided to do combined graduation ceremonies for the schools and programs for the College of Humanities and Sciences. This came as a surprise to many because VCU used to have individual ceremonies for the majors and programs in that college. 

This decision came after VCU realized the College of Humanities and Sciences was the only college that has not combined their commencement ceremonies. However, this specific college is one of the biggest that the university has. So, it makes sense of why it would have more than one ceremony for its majors and programs. 

The amount of backlash that VCU has faced since stating that they will be doing this is substantial and reasonably so. Within the first four hours of a petition being created, it already had over 700 signatures. Although this was announced, the push back still is continuing and students are still upset over this news.

I completely understand why everyone is upset. In my opinion, this just seems like a way for VCU to spend less money on graduation as I can only assume the multiple commencement ceremonies inside one single college can cost a lot. And while this may seem like a good reason for VCU to combine graduations, I would like to remind everyone on how much the school makes and how much President Rao makes. 


Woman In Black Long Sleeve Dress Standing On Brown Concrete
Stanley Morales / Pexels

As I previously stated, each major and program had their own individual program so this would be a vast difference as there was usually only 200 graduates in each ceremony. With the combined commencement, it would be more than 1,000 graduates in that one commencement. That would take so much time versus the quicker and more intimate ceremony. So that’s just another reason just to keep it how it was before.

Another reason why students really want the graduations to remain separate is this intimacy. We all are in different fields and on different paths, so why wouldn’t we want to be with our peers and professors that were with us the entire college experience? Personally, my college experience has been me just having the same professors over and over again. At this point, you really start to bond with them. It would only make sense to have them there instead of random professors and other students you have never shared a class or anything with.

It kind of reminds me of high school graduation. I personally only had around 350 other people graduating with me, and I had at least seen or talked to most of those people at least once. I had known most of the teachers as well. It made my high school graduation more comfortable and way less intimidating as I was surrounded by people who shared the same experience as I did. 

All I can say about this situation is that I urge VCU to act with compassion rather than acting as an institution. Put yourselves in the shoes of your students, as we invested our money in your school.

Kaitlyn Austin is a senior majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Civil Rights. She is always in the library doing homework with her friends.
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