Campus Politics

2015 Commencement

The University of Portland’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony is approaching in less then a week and graduating seniors are finding themselves more stressed then excited. When announced that each senior would be receiving four tickets each for friends and family to attend the ceremony, I noticed that was different then what my sister was given only three years ago. With graduating classes growing each year, questions developed, how has the University been accommodating the constant growth and need for more space?!

Records go back as far as 1935; reports show that year the University had 17 graduates (statistics provided by Alex Thielman Data & Analytics Manager). By the year of 1950 the number had rose to 437 graduating seniors. After 1960 and prior to 1985, Commencement was held at the Portland Memorial Coliseum, location changed when Chiles was constructed and its doors were opened in October 1984. The coliseum has a capacity of roughly 12,888 while Chiles is about one third of the size at 4,852. For exactly the last 30 years Chiles has continued to be the host for commencement. People have asked why it hasn’t moved with student growth, last year Bill Reed, Director of University Events, stated that “You started here, you should end here.”

In 2011 each graduating senior was given six tickets for family and friends. In 2012 that number changed to five, with the addition of assigned seating. Two of the tickets would be located in the lower level, with the other three being placed in an upper section of Chiles. This was to ensure that each graduate would be given what would be considered ‘good seats’ for their families. The number of tickets changed once again in 2013 to four, that number has remained the same till today.

With the University of Portland admitting more and more students each year there are bound to be some issues within this small Catholic college. The many of which include the availability of commencement tickets students are allotted for their relatives and friends.

According to Bill Reed, the director of University Events, the 2015 graduating class has reached over eight hundred. With this rise, the amount of tickets that the university is giving to each graduate so they may have people watch the commencement ceremony is only 4. This small amount has many graduates upset, even though the University Events office has been able to accommodate up to 2 extra tickets per student who requested extra.

Not only are current graduating students worried about the lack of tickets, but future graduates such as Haley Finley, who is expected to graduate in 2018, whether they will be able to get enough tickets. Bill Reed and the office of University Events has submitted a solution to the growing class size problem to the University.

The plan would consist of having 3 separate commencement ceremonies. The first one would be for graduate students, the second would be solely for the College of Arts and Sciences, and the last one would be the remaining colleges such as engineering, education and business.

This has been met with both positive and negative reactions from students, where some feel it would solve the problem of the low ticket availability and the other half want to be able to graduate alongside their peers who have different majors.

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“I know a lot of people are freaking out about it. People are coming in from all over, and then [students] can’t provide them with tickets,” Says UP senior and biology major, Clayton Steed.

”Since I only have four tickets and I come form a family of six, I had to decide which one of my siblings was going to get the boot. Also, me and my siblings are all first-generation, so I didn’t want to exclude my younger brother, who I could be influencing, but at the same time I still want my older sisters who paved the way for me to see too,” explained Jasmine Wooton, senior business major. When asked about applying for more tickets, she added,

“It’s not hard to apply for [extra tickets]. I got one extra ticket, but it’s not near where your other tickets are, which I think is silly. If you have more tickets, you should probably ask who needs more tickets before you start assigning seats so that your whole family can sit together, rather than four people sitting together and another sitting Lord knows where.”

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Seniors aren’t the only ones frustrated about the matter.

“For me it’s concerning, because my family tradition is my extended family would come and see our college graduation and, quite frankly, I got a good amount of extended family, so knowing that I’d have to choose the two other people besides my parents, it’s concerning for me,’” says Natalie Young, a freshman Theater major.

“I would apply [for more tickets], but knowing that there’s probably going to be a lot of people who are applying in my class—considering we’re one of the biggest classes ever— I’m aware that I’m not going to get extra tickets, and it’s stressful.”

Thankfully, students have their own ideas on how to make things easier.

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“I rather like the idea of changing venues. It seems to me that if there’s a problem with this venue that we’re using now, and a lot of people are expressing frustrations with that problem, the most logical solution would be to look for another venue,” says Young.
Biology major and graduating senior, Sarah Bar, agreed with Young’s suggestion.

“I think if they either chose a different venue, or somehow opened up more seating, even if the graduation was a ‘theater in the round,’ it would open up more seating and allow people to have standing room, I’m sure most families would be dedicated enough to come and stand and watch the graduation.”
Psychology Major and graduating student Jennifer Sabo had a different idea on how to improve matters for students.
“Why don’t they just break graduation up into colleges—thecollege of arts and science can have one, school of nursing have theirown—makes graduation shorter, less people, and you get to have more seating,” says Sabo.
It may be too late to change things for this year’s graduating senior, but so long as the University of Portland is willing to listen, and work with tis students, future graduating classes can avoid the unnecessary stress of choosing between family members to attend one of the biggest days of their lives.

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