Real Talk: UF Graduating Seniors’ Thoughts on New Commencement Ceremony

By Summer Jarro

This September, the University of Florida announced a change in its graduation ceremony for the fall and spring.

The change comes after controversy regarding the spring 2018 UF graduation ceremony where an usher forced multiple graduating students off the stage who were dancing as their names were called.

Now, undergraduates will have two ceremonies. One will be a university-wide graduation with a majority of the colleges in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but no one will be able to walk across the stage or hear their name called. Later the same day, there will be a separate, second ceremony for each college in smaller venues on campus. There each student will be individually recognized.

In the fall, all undergraduates will have a combined ceremony in the morning at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 15, but will not get individually recognized. (Photo by Summer Jarro)

The UF graduation ceremony is something I have been looking forward to ever since I learned about it. I love that the undergraduate students in different colleges come together for one ceremony and celebrate with each other, while also getting the opportunity to walk on the stage, hear their name be said in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and get to be seen on the Jumbotron by everyone in the stadium.

Since I am graduating this December with my bachelor’s degree in journalism and the date is slowly approaching, these past few months I have started thinking about what to do when I end up on the Jumbotron and get my degree.

Now it looks like I won’t have to think about it anymore. The commencement change has certainly made me disappointed, and I am not alone.

Other upcoming graduates have voiced their disappointment, sadness and anger on Twitter when the news broke about the change. A petition was even created on change.org to give UF students the graduation they deserve that got over 10,000 signatures.

Taylor Keaton, a fourth-year telecommunications major graduating UF in December, was upset about what happened during the UF spring graduation and thinks the change is unnecessary.

Keaton feels the idea of having a ceremony in the morning and a separate ceremony later at night is ridiculous and inconsiderate to families who have already scheduled graduation weekend around the previous commencement, she said.

One of her biggest takeaways is many of her friends are not a part of her college, so they all won’t be able to be together when they get individually recognized.

“We’re supposed to be a community,” Keaton said. “Us going to this school supports the Gainesville community, and so, I think we owe it to ourselves and the school owes it to us to celebrate one another altogether.”

While some students are against the new commencement ceremony, others have made peace with the idea including Dayaneria Feliciano, a fourth-year telecommunications major and upcoming fall graduate.

Even though she signed the graduation petition when it was formed, now Feliciano feels the change won’t be that bad, and it lets her celebrate twice, she said.

“I think it will be good,” Feliciano said. “It’s something new. Something that we will have to give a chance to and see if it works.”

I guess we will have to wait and see how the new commencement ceremony works out once December comes around.

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