December commencements have come to an end; including 2019

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On August 16, 2019, a campus-wide email containing a message from Catherine A. Davy, the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, was sent to many. There will no longer be a December commencement ceremony for Fall graduates beginning this Fall semester. Immediately after seeing this message, several students expressed their outrage and frustrations concerning this new plan. Some of the comments come from students who were supposed to walk this fall, along with completing their degree.

“This is an excuse for disorganization, negligence, and selfishness,” says Carolina Benn, a senior graduating this fall. “I’ve worked too hard these past four years to be possibly robbed of why I spent all this money. This should have been spoken about way in advance. We are not to be punished for poor planning and execution.”

Another graduating senior and the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Journal, Chanel Stitt states, “My friends and I have been looking forward to graduating in December since we got to university. I have an ongoing countdown to December 14thin my room right now that I will have to erase.”

A well-known graduating senior by the name Mohamad “MoeJay” Jaafar says, “The changes don’t necessarily impact me too much because I don’t plan on moving in December, but I feel bad for some of my fellow wolverines who were very excited about walking across that stage in a few months. I’m also concerned about the students who have already committed to post graduation plans out of state meaning they may not be here in April 2020.”

Dereka Bennett, Business editor at the Michigan Journal has big plans for post-graduation.

“I have to postpone my transition to grad school just so my family can see me graduate.I planned on completing my masters in January 2020 in London,” says Bennett.

Christopher Holly, a December graduate who has attended UM-Dearborn for going on five years and has had an immense impact on this campus, states, “People already don’t value or pay attention to December graduations and this only solidifies that mindset.

Holly also expressed concern for a statement that was in the email, “I don’t like that they said it ‘will allow for substantial financial savings that will be directed to student financial aid and support student success initiatives.’”

“Announcing this just months before commencement was supposed to happen is absolutely unacceptable for the students who have taken extra summer classes, changed their schedules, and planned ahead in order to walk in December,” says Riley Brown, a CEHHS student. It’s unfair and unacceptable and mainly it is upsetting as I feel unimportant and pushed aside.”

While there are a lot of concerns and frustrations from upcoming December graduates, they are not the only students who are upset. It was initially believed that Student Government was involved in the decision to no longer have the December commencements.

However, Brad Simmons, a student government fellow, addressed this concern stating that, “The Student Government expressed their deep concerns and opposed, at that time, the proposed change. We felt having only one ceremony may be harmful against international students and other students who will have found work outside the area. They would miss out on celebrating their great accomplishment.”

After receiving these statements from these students who have put their hard work and plans in gear to be able to walk at a set time, on December 14, it is clear that eliminating December commencements is not something that people are simply going to accept, and with good reason. It’s a move that was made for budgetary reasons, yet the University just increased tuition in June. Several students made points stating that it doesn’t make sense because they spent several thousands of dollars on other university related activities and projects such as the recent inauguration ceremony and the installation of the block M behind the University Center.

This is an issue that affects thousands of students on campus, whether financially or inconvenience, and should have been addressed at least a year in advance to give people time to prepare.

Flights have to be cancelled, plans for grad school have to be adjusted, or students will simply not be able to walk the stage. As previously mentioned, there is no guarantee students will be able to be present five months after they graduate.

This is not an issue that will simple be forgotten about any time soon, and it should be expected that there will be several questions for the people in charge of these changes. If anyone has any concerns about this, email decembercommencement@umich.edu.