Commencement has been a hot issue at Ithaca College this semester. The Ithacan has reported on the issue multiple times, but it seems that those involved in the reform process have lost some sight of what’s important.
Though the reform surrounding Commencement has been a cause that parents have shouldered, it started with President Shirley M. Collado raising questions about the college’s current Commencement exercises. The Ithaca College Commencement Committee sent out a survey to students, alumni, faculty, members of the administration, parents of current and prospective students, and parents of alumni Nov. 14 in a response to the parents’ petition, to ask what they thought Commencement should look like in the future.
But while multiple sources of input may be good, Commencement reform should come from actual Ithaca College students and their parents — not alumni, faculty, members of the administration, parents of prospective students and parents of alumni.
The survey had a few solutions to the college’s current Commencement conundrum, including having all names read at one school ceremony, having smaller ceremonies for each school at the college and more. But despite the efforts to be as inclusive as possible, the efforts to make Commencement reform have somehow forgotten that Commencement should revolve around current students and their parents.
Commencement is a day for students and their families to celebrate how far they’ve come since Convocation. Why ask people what they think the college should do for their Commencement ceremonies if their students don’t even attend the college yet? The college has an incredibly low yield rate to begin with — to call on families of prospective students does not make any sense, given the situation. And for that matter, why ask people whose students no longer attend the college? Yes, they may have some perspective, but they are not the people who will be attending Commencement in the near future. Current students and their parents have much more of a stake in Commencement, as they will actually feel the effect of Commencement reform.
Because of this, current students and their parents — not the other constituencies surveyed— should be the people who decide what happens at their graduation ceremony.