Objections to ‘Graduation on the Quad is overrated’

Andy Landolfi

The following is a letter to the editor. 

In the previous weeks opinion section, an editor for The Quinnipiac Chronicle voiced her opinion regarding the university’s decision to move graduation from the university quadrangle to the TD Bank Sports Center. This editor believed, an opinion that although I disagree with, she’s certainly entitled to, graduation on the university quadrangle is “overrated.” I’d like to spend the rest of this editorial answering some of the contestations raised by my senior colleague. Let’s get started:

At the center of the argument, and threaded randomly throughout, arose a claim that graduation on the university quadrangle would be uncomfortable. Sweatiness, stickiness, and discomfort would become the defining qualities of our commencement experience. As evidence, the writer employed personal experience: high school commencement and the university induction ceremony freshman year. I will begin by first refuting the connection made between the induction ceremony and commencement. According to the website U.S. Climate Data, which records monthly average temperatures across the U.S., the average high temperature for Hamden, Connecticut during the month of May (commencement month!) is 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Conversely, the average recorded temperature for the month of August (induction month!) is 83 degrees Fahrenheit. The personal experience used as a possible refutation for holding graduation on the university quadrangle lacks consistency: by comparing two months known for different weather patterns, the logical basis for the assertion falls apart. The basis used for objection dismantles itself upon further inspection when one notes the incomparability of the months put forward for comparison. As far as high school graduation goes, (and maybe I’m wrong) I assume, like mine, it was held in June, and, much like August, the average recorded high temperature is different than the average temperature for the month at hand. Again, the logic breaks upon further inspection.

On to the second point: according to last weeks opinion piece, the writer claimed Td Bank Sports Center offered those in attendance a better view of the stage. On this point, I concede, but I feel the need to offer a possible complication. Although those in attendance may receive a better view of the ceremony, the number of people in attendance, that is, the number of people allowed to get this better view, will now be limited. Unlike graduation on the university quadrangle, which historically opens the commencement ceremony to the public, commencement at TD Bank restricts the number of friends and family a student can bring to graduation. So yes, TD Bank offers spectators a better view of the commencement ceremony, but, unlike the quadrangle, Td Bank limits the number of friends and family allowed to take part in the final steps of undergraduate subsistence. If graduation is a ceremony for friends and family, then the university quadrangle better caters to the needs of a familial experience. If it is about family, then why should students have to pick and choose what family members get to come and which do not? While TD Bank offers better ceremonial views, the quadrangle ensures the view, even if obscured, may be shared widely.

With the two main arguments accounted for, I now turn to the arguments in favor of returning commencement to the quadrangle. The first argument stems from an administrative promise made almost four years ago when Joan Isaac Mohr stated that, in 1360 days, the students of the Quinnipiac Class of 2016 would return to the quadrangle for commencement. Mohr stated that the induction ceremony would be the last time, until graduation, that the entire class would be together. The university, by rescinding their commitment to Mohr’s proclamation, shows not just dishonesty, but also sets a bad precedent for students. If a university’s administration fails to stand by their own proclamations, how can they reprimand students for failing to stand by theirs? The message a university sends to its students must not only be preached but also practiced—an alcoholic would never listen to the prohibitionist teachings of a drunkard.

Secondly, and this cannot be understated, the university’s administrative decision to move graduation was made without any input from the senior class. Rather than asking students to evaluate the proposal and offer feedback, administrators chose to skirt student opinion and render a judgment incapable of being adequately debated. Traditionally, the university is an institution dedicated to the spread of Democratic principles and ideology—the administrative action was, to be harsh in rhetoric, nothing short of tyrannical and backhanded—actions completely at odds with the philosophies and modes of behavior a university is expected to teach.

So here we are, three months away from the moment dedicated to celebrating four years of student achievement and four years of parental support that got us there. By boycotting graduation, some imagine we do our parents a disservice—graduation, some claim, is as much for the parents as it is for the students. And I couldn’t agree more. But as a student who has spent four years at Quinnipiac, I cannot imagine any other way to show my parents the money they put towards my education was not wasted; my education made me a questioning, conscientious, and committed citizen of a Democratic system—an individual who praises the triumph of Democratic principles and criticizes, and then stands against, those who, either through forgetfulness or implicit understanding, act against the principles for which we were taught to stand.

Whether I shake John Lahey’s hand or not, I prove to my friends, family, and all others, by standing with personal conviction, that my education was not just theoretically successful, it was also pragmatically applicable.

Check out the original opinion piece here.