Seniors jumped on the ticket portal at noon on March 22 to choose seats for their family members to see them graduate in the TD Bank Sports Center on May 21 and 22. But many were surprised when they had to pick specific seat numbers, rather than receiving a set of general admission tickets.
All commencement ceremonies will be held in the Lender Court arena inside the TD Bank Sports Center this year, as opposed to years prior when graduation was held on the Quad. Seats on the Quad were unlimited, but in the TD Bank Sports Center, seating limitations do not allow for students to bring more than seven family members. All other family members who wish to attend the ceremony must watch from the hockey arena on the HD scoreboard.
All seniors received an email on March 22 saying the link to obtain commencement tickets was live. Students had to sign in using their Quinnipiac credentials. After logging in, students had to click on their commencement ceremony and choose seats from a seating chart of the basketball arena.
Senior Nicole Hardenbrook said she was upset because she did not realize she had to reserve assigned seats for her family.
“I had no idea that it was going to be assigned seating so I took my time getting on,” she said in a Facebook post. “I figured you just reserved tickets and then it would be a free for all when they got there.”
Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs and member of the Commencement Committee Karla Natale said the ticket portal was the best option for dispersing commencement ceremony tickets.
“Nearly everyone has purchased concert or sporting event tickets through TicketMaster or a similar portal and should be familiar with online ticketing,” she said. “It is a much easier way of conducting business for students than having to physically show up in person for tickets.”
The Commencement Committee consists of 25 members of the Quinnipiac community, according to Natale. She said the committee includes representatives from departments across the university, as well as the senior class president and vice president.
The committee made the decision to use a ticket portal for seniors to reserve their commencement tickets.
Natale said the ticket portal worked well for most students, with over 750 students successfully accessing the system and reserving tickets within the first two hours of the link being live.
However, many seniors were frustrated with the ticket system.
Senior Autumn Liebert was at work when the ticket portal link was sent and was not able to reserve tickets for her family until 3 p.m. She wished she knew more information prior to the ticket portal being sent to students.
“It was really unfortunate because by the time I got on almost all the tickets were already taken,” she said. “If I had realized we were reserving specific seats for our families and that this would be a ‘Hunger Games’ style process, I would have been refreshing my email from the moment I woke up.”
Natale said the university sent an email to graduating seniors the week before spring break. A hard copy brochure was also sent to the student’s home address and information was made available on each senior’s Blackboard page.
Senior Meghan Prevost said she received this email, but believes the university should have taken more steps to communicate with the graduating class.
“I feel as if there was too much of a time difference between when that email was sent and when the portal went live,” she said. “The email could have been formatted more clearly to express that this is when tickets would be available–such as bolding the date and time–as many students glance at emails for the main messages.”
Other seniors, such as Tori Hartmann, were upset that students were only allowed seven tickets for their family members.
“It’s annoying that we can’t even get an even number,” she said in Facebook post. “I have eight people in my family so I have to figure out who’s going to get ‘booted’ over to the hockey rink.”
Liebert disagreed, saying that seven tickets per graduate is fair.
“Most colleges give only four, yet students [at Quinnipiac] are begging for more,” she said. “Of course I have more than seven family members, but I get that not everyone can attend the ceremony because the stadium can only accommodate a certain amount of people.”
Prevost said she wishes the ceremony were general admission as opposed to reserved seating.
“I strongly believe that a general admission style ceremony would have functioned much better than selecting specific tickets,” she said. “For example, I was able to get additional tickets from a classmate of mine; however, those family members will be sitting in a completely different section of the arena from my other family members.”
Contrary to Prevost’s thoughts, Liebert said she thinks this system of reserving tickets is much better than general admission.
“It’s more fair that each student is given the opportunity to reserve tickets for their loved ones ahead of time so there is no stress the day of,” she said. “At the same time, I understand why graduates with huge families may be upset. But when people are flying in from all over the country, it’s not fair that someone might have aunts, uncles and grandparents in front row seats when someone else’s parents are in the back row.”
Natale said she is confused as to why students do not like the ticket portal.
“Each student is allocated seven tickets and students who have more guests than seven are welcome to have the extra guests view it on a live stream from the ice hockey arena,” she said. “They also can ask other students if anyone has extra tickets.”
Even though family members can still view the ceremony from the scoreboard in the hockey rink, Hartmann wishes there was a way to get more tickets besides asking around.
“All you see are people asking for tickets but no one is giving any away,” she said.
Prevost said she thinks one way to accommodate students who need extra tickets is to provide standing room tickets.
“I think that this would be a creative solution to accommodate the still present need for tickets, while giving an opportunity for students of other schools–such as health sciences, CAS, etcetera–to attend each other’s ceremonies,” she said.
Prevost also said she believes the university should accommodate students who have larger families who want to attend the ceremony, and to not have to rely on peers for extra tickets.
“For someone who is the first to graduate from college in her family, this is a huge moment not only in my life, but our whole family as well,” she said. “For myself, and I’m sure a decent majority of the student population at Quinnipiac, our time at QU was a journey not only for ourselves, but for our whole family as well, and they should be present to celebrate this moment of immense joy and not watching it on a screen in the adjacent arena.”