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Seniors’ Voice Troubles as Commencement Nears

By: Jennifer Ward


Commencement at theWestchester County Center in 2019. (Photo via @purchasecollege on Instagram)

As the end of the semester creeps closer, commencement also inches nearer each day for the seniors. This year, however, many students have expressed frustration when it comes to the circumstances that come with this year's ceremony.


Unlike the previous year, which was held on the Great Lawn, commencement is being held off-campus at the Westchester County Center. Although this may seem unexpected, commencement is usually held at the County Center, with the last few years being an exception due to Covid-19.


“The County Center has been the venue for commencement for the 10 years that I have been on campus,” said Commencement Committee Chair, Keisha Martin. “We had to make an exception last year due to the County Center being unavailable. We hosted on campus, and it rained and was not a pleasant experience for those who were gathered.”


Commencement used to be consistently held on-campus years ago, many factors went into the decision to move it to an indoor facility. The weather is a major factor, as the majority of the years it would rain during commencement. Also financially, it is deemed very difficult to keep up. The building of the stage, structure, audio, bathrooms, seatings, awnings, bathrooms, and insurance problems deems it very difficult to hold commencement on stage.


“It’s just so out of the way. It would be so much easier if it was here,” said Christie Nauheimer, senior visual arts major. “We have a nice campus, I think they should just do it here. Even if they want to do it inside we have theaters.”


With the community center being able to hold 5,000 people, it was viewed as the best bet to hold commencement in the safest way. Commencement will be projected onto a large screen, as well as live-streamed for those who are not able to attend.


However, due to the finite amount of seats in the County Center, seniors have been limited to the number of tickets they have been given for commencement. Each student was initially given two tickets they got along with their original commencement fee. Afterward, they were given the opportunity to pay for an extra three tickets for an additional $5.


“The way ticketing works is the County Center has a finite number of seats. It’s just math,” said Carrie Bianchi, Executive Assistant to the President. “We have X number of graduating seniors. It’s just one of those things that there are just never enough seats.”


This news has left many seniors outraged, with many voicing complaints about not having enough tickets to give out. Leaving many disappointed that family members and friends won’t be able to watch them graduate in person like they previously anticipated.

Commencement at theWestchester County Center in 2019. (Photo via @purchasecollege on Instagram)

“I just don't think we should have to pay for extra tickets because if they’re counting extra space already just hand out those tickets equally,” said Nixziara Marino, senior literature and theater and performance major.


According to Martin, the reason for students paying for the extra tickets is that the funds from those sales will be used to help offset the fees of the venue. That is how they usually did the ticket sales in the years prior to the pandemic.


Students who are looking to purchase more tickets can do so from now to May 5, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays at the More card office. If arrangements are needed, students are encouraged to email saf.commencement@purcahse.edu.


“The whole objective here is to be fair and make it as easy as possible. Sometimes we’ll get a call, and I’ll figure out a way to help someone,” said Bianchi. “If someone calls this office in a pinch, we will bend over backward. We are here to serve our students, that’s the whole reason we’re here.”


With commencement coming up on May 12, seniors have lost hope that new arrangements will be made for ticketing, but still remain hopeful that this will change in future years.


Students, however, are encouraged to help each other out, buy tickets from each other if they are going unused, and to work with each other when it comes to finding a way to get loved ones in.


“I think commencement is the most joyous thing, I hope every student and their families really enjoy it,” said Bianchi. “I can tell you that there are quite a few people who spend an enormous amount and people who make sure that it’s really a meaningful celebration for everyone there. Students, families, loved ones, and faculty. It’s a great event.”



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