SGA working the ropes for graduation cords approval

Staci Canny

Quinnipiac has not recognized graduation cords from honor societies since its establishment. Now, the Student Government Association is trying to change that.

The only recognized cords are for students graduating with honors in the cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude range, with a respective grade point average ranging from 3.5 to 3.69, 3.7 to 3.89, and 3.9 to 4.0.

SGA will meet with the commencement committee on March 6 to discuss a proposal for the university to recognize more honors societies’ graduation cords.

There are at least 15 honor societies on campus that have expressed interest in having their cords recognized, Class of 2012 Representative Andrew McDermott said.

The issue with the university at this point is with the graduation cord standard, SGA’s Vice President of Student Concerns Vincent Bond said.

“The way the university looks at it is that there are numerous award ceremonies for these organizations during the year to give awards for those accomplishments,” Bond said. “But what the university is saying is that graduation is an academic event, where they want to have those cords be definite in what they are putting out there.”

McDermott is leading a research initiative in preparation for the upcoming meeting. He said that he is reaching out to the university’s honor societies to find out how many seniors belong to each group, and what their membership requirements are.

University Honors Program co-presidents Julianne Gardner and Erin Hodgson wrote a letter to Mark Thompson, senior vice president for academic & student affairs, in an effort to assist SGA’s proposal to have their cords approved.

If the university does not change its policy for the 2012 commencement ceremony, Gardner said that she might still wear her honors cord.

“It would have to find that balance, because I wouldn’t want to disrespect the university, but at the same time we should be allowed to show all of our achievements,” Gardner said. “We worked hard to deserve this.”

Hodgson said that she will wear her cord no matter what decision the University makes this spring.

“The cord is the physical representation of four years of hard work and dedication to a program that has challenged me to grow as a person,” Hodgson said. “The University does not have the right to keep me from wearing it.”

Bond said that students have taken the initiative to have the university recognize honor societies’ cords for years.

One of the reasons that these efforts have been unsuccessful is because the university wants graduation to be as fair as possible for all students, the Commencement Committee said.

Some societies require a monetary fee, which can put some students with a qualifying GPA at a disadvantage if they are unable to pay for membership, McDermott said.

Despite the conflicting viewpoints, Bond said that he has noticed many students have begun to see graduation being a time to honor students beyond their GPA.

“You come to Quinnipiac as a freshman, you do the freshman induction ceremony, you walk through, you are all wearing the same thing. When you walk out, you’ve completely changed.

“You have done Greek life, honors programs, classes, been involved in a hundred different things. You make your own legend here. At your graduation day, you should be allowed to wear that with pride,” Bond said.

SGA’s goal is to have a full proposal written out by the end of next week, according to McDermott.

“It is up to students and societies to pay for cords,” McDermott said. “People just want the school to say ‘OK, it’s fine to wear your cords.’”

Either way, McDermott remains positive about the fate of his initiative.

“Even if it doesn’t happen for this graduation, I still want to continue working on it so that it can happen for next year,” McDermott said.

Hodgson is also staying positive by looking at the bigger picture in regards to this issue.

“Nobody is comparing who has cords and who doesn’t on graduation day … we’re all too busy moving on to a new chapter of our lives,” Hodgson said.