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Students Say They Don’t Have Enough Graduation Tickets

Khaaliq Crowder, Staff Writer

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For the past six years, the University of New Haven has held their spring commencement at the Oakdale Theatre located in Wallingford.

The theater’s holds approximately 5,000 seats with 1,000 students (from undergraduate and graduate programs) attending, who are given four tickets each. If students want more, they can put their name on a waiting list or ask around for a fellow senior that is not using all their tickets.

In terms of the number of students attending, Daniel May, University of New Haven’s provost, said, “For the class of 2017, we have 1,200 students (from undergraduate and graduate school). However, 80 percent will be participating while 20 percent will not be attending for various reasons.”

Four tickets is not enough for all students. Kendra Key, a senior communication major, has a large family, and said in an email:

“It is very stressful because I have had many people who have poured into my life and contributed to my college career that would love to attend my graduation…and should be able to,” she said. “[When I told my family members], some were disappointed, especially those who have been talking about attending my graduation since freshmen year, but they are understanding.”

Moire Thomas-Waters, a senior in the sports management program, also has a large family.

“I have two older brothers and two little sisters,” said Thomas-Waters. “Many of my family members would love to be in attendance to see me graduate but having to pick only four people is complicated and makes me feel guilty because then other members would wonder why I did not pick them.”

Even first-year student Leah Walker was perplexed. Since the ceremony takes place in mid-May, she wants to know why can’t the setting take place outside to allocate more attendance.

“At my high school, the setup was, if the weather was going to be beautiful and sunny, then the graduation was held outside; if they anticipated rain, it would be inside, and everyone gets four tickets,” said Walker.

Through email, a commencement committee spokesperson addressed some of the reasons with having event take place outside saying, “There was a time that the May commencement was held in DelleCamera Stadium. A lightning storm during the ceremony ruined the day for everyone, and all recognize the need for a venue change. The stadium lacks proper sheltering capabilities should evacuation be required, and there is not a timely way to evacuate correctly our mobility-impaired guests that require transportation. Spring weather can be unpredictable in New England and had impacted other ceremonies too.”

May said that the school has explored other venues, but so far, it didn’t work out.

“We just can’t take that chance,” he said. “We thought about having at the Mohegan Sun or Foxwood Casinos, but we decided not to go with it; we felt it was not an appropriate place.”

May added that the administration had considered Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena but “we rejected the idea as we felt it was not the right atmosphere, it was too big, and there’s no crowd control, it didn’t feel formal, and the seating was uncomfortable.”

May said Oakdale Theatre is the right size, and he said, “we have to compete with other schools for the venue.” Besides, said May, other schools are even more strict with tickets. He said his son graduated from Boston University and was allotted only two tickets.

He also said that “only 200 faculty members attend and they are on the stage to make sure seats are not taken up.”

“We also have to respect our international students, who go through many obstacles to try to get their family to the states to attend the graduation. It can be difficult for their families [of international students] between visas, laws or financial reasons.”

Currently, the university holds two commencement ceremonies. The morning is for the College of Arts & Sciences and Tagliatela College of Engineering while the afternoon is for the College of Business and Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences.

For friends and families of the students, the graduation ceremonies are streamed online. May also encouraged students to join the commencement committee, particularly as they approach their senior year.

“We currently have the USGA President, the senior [2017] class president and an E-Board member of the student yearbook and Charger Bulletin, who sit in on the meetings,” May said. “We are always open to suggestions and changes.”

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Students Say They Don’t Have Enough Graduation Tickets