Commencement Controversy: Students denied exceptions

Ben Ronemus

News Editor

Since eliminating Winter commencements, students graduating after the completion of the Fall semester must come back to walk in the Spring, or they can petition to walk the previous spring under extenuating circumstances,however, not many circumstances are being approved by the provost

“There are fixed costs that goes on with every graduation, therefore, I understand the position that management had to take even though I think there are consequences that go on with it,” said Matthew Girton, the ASCUF president of the local chapter and professor of communications,

If students have less than six credits left and will complete their last classes over the summer following spring commencement, they may walk that spring.

Only with extenuating circumstances are students allowed to walk the Spring before graduating in the Fall, as approved by the Provost.

According to several sources, having an actual circumstance that is extenuating enough is almost impossible. Disallowing certain students to walk early is causing tension between students, faculty and the Provost.

“I had concerns initially with [having one commencement a year] when it was proposed for the reasons that are now cropping up. I didn’t see the scope of it or the depth of the issues. So I think that, to me, what this requires is taking another look at this,”said Girton.

Girton explains that the Provost should be more accepting of circumstances since this is a relatively new rule, the faculty expect that the Provost should be more flexible in allowing students to walk.

“Those students who have done academically quite well, we need to be erring on the side of, or at the very least giving students the choice of whether they wanna walk early or come back,”said Girton.

Christine Remley, an education professor, says that the faculty is confused on this issue.

“Our biggest concern here is that students will not return six months after graduation, when they have left the area, are working full time, and have moved on with their life,”said Remley.

Remley says she has seen students get their pleas for early commencement rejected that are “excellent students, they are honor roll students, dean’s list students.”

Two students in particular were affected and reached out to the Eagle Eye to have their stories told.

Moriah Lindsey, a softball player, is graduating late because of her commitment to her sport and wants an exception to walk in Spring of 2018 with the rest of her peers.

She said, “we [the students] have spent four years (and in some cases more) working for something that sets us up for the rest of our lives”.

She was denied the ability to walk early by the Provost.

Lindsey says that she finds this “rather ridiculous because after finishing school most students start their careers, and that might entail moving out of state, working full time, etc”.

Jordan Moyer is another student graduating in the Winter, and was denied the ability to walk this Spring.

“I want to walk this spring because in Sept. my family found out my grandmother has a heart condition and her heart is only working at 10 percent. The doctors told her they don’t know how long it will keep working at 10 percent. I was asking to walk this spring so my grandmother has a chance to be there. If I have to wait until next spring, there’s a good chance she won’t make it,” said Jordan.

The email she received from the Provost said, “While I sympathize with your desire to walk this May instead of next in hopes that your grandmother will be there to watch, I am not approving your request as extenuating circumstances”.

Remley said,“If we are a school that puts students first, then let’s put students first and allow them to celebrate with their families at a time that’s best for everyone, that’s really what we are asking.”

These rejections of appeals that students and faculty believe are extenuating could have repercussions on Lock Haven University in the future.

“I believe, the Provost does not share my belief, this could create issues down the road when we are asking alumni to come back to Lock Haven to contribute to Lock Haven and to promote Lock Haven.” Says Dr. Girton.

According to students like Moriah, “I think it very much will affect the way I contribute back to LHU”.

As for what can be done about this conundrum, Girton said, “I believe the faculty are trying to do what they can, I don’t know that the faculty can do anymore, I think at this point, I don’t think the students realize the kind of voice that they have. This is something that has to be student led.”

Remley said,“Provost Wilson said that we are implementing the policy full tilt right now no exceptions in order to move into this new method.” She believes that the students must take hold of the situation and try to make it better by “getting the word out” and “to continue to make requests”. At this point, Provost Wilson seems to be sticking to her decision.

The Provost’s point of view, according to Girton, is that she “sees this as a celebration of completion. She feels as though, that when you push that too far out, the ceremony loses its meaning at that point.”

“For a university who says they put students first this is not a good representation of putting students first.” said Lindsey.


One thought on “Commencement Controversy: Students denied exceptions

  1. maryejones1992 says:

    This is sad. I’m an alumni of LHU, and it’s sad to see how much worse the university is getting with putting their students first. I wish the students luck, and hope that they can get their voice heard.

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