EDITORIAL | Graduation needs to be improved before it loses prominence

Image from the 2023 Utah Tech commencement promotional. Photo courtesy of UMAC

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Picture your ideal graduation. Maybe Taylor Swift is the keynote speaker, or maybe there will be an epic fireworks show following the closing ceremony.

Are you picturing a night graduation that goes super late with half the graduates leaving by the time the ceremony is over? No, you’re probably not.

Currently, Utah Tech University’s graduation ceremonies have leaned toward the latter. The upcoming ceremony on May 3, 2024, follows similar patterns, with the ceremony starting at 7 p.m. Therefore, we have some recommendations that can make it more enjoyable for all parties.

Something that we have noticed is that graduation has lost that special exciting feeling that was often felt for one’s high school graduation. Some of us don’t see the benefits of attending our graduation, and others have noted how many graduates leave as soon as they cross the stage. With all of this in mind, the excitement for graduation needs to be brought back, even if that means making a couple of changes.

Not to blame everything on the COVID-19 pandemic, but a lot of these graduates, especially in the next few years, did not have a high school graduation or it was completely changed. Therefore, they deserve to have a ceremony that truly represents them and all they have accomplished.

The first possible improvement to graduation is to create a winter graduation ceremony. This would ensure that students who graduated in the summer or fall semesters prior do not have to come back to campus for a spring commencement ceremony, including international students. These students who graduated early usually have to go out of their way to come back to campus for a ceremony that is now a couple of months late of the excitement.

Creating this winter ceremony can also solve some of the common issues with the graduation ceremony. Two graduation ceremonies would break up the attendance and break up the length of it. This would decrease the chance of students leaving early.

Another way to shorten the length of the ceremony could be by breaking up the graduation based on colleges. Megan Church, director of university events and promotions, said each academic college will be hosting award banquets before commencement this year as a way to make the main ceremony as impactful as possible.

Since there will already be a reception and award banquet beforehand for the different colleges, the commencement might as well be broken up. This could be done in either a few groups or even two groups. It would help make the ceremony more meaningful since graduates will be surrounded by peers from their college.

However, if breaking up the ceremony is not possible, then there might be some benefits of moving it to the morning. We would rather get up early and attend the ceremony than stay super late into the night. Sun News reporters have asked students on campus about their ideal graduation, and many said it would be in the morning.

Also, have you heard about the Iron Man World Championship? Well, this triathlon event is being hosted in St. George and bringing people from all over the world to our town for the same week of graduation. According to Triathlete, last year the Iron Man World Championship brought about 6,000 athletes and 4,000 volunteers to St. Geroge.

While this is something that the university can’t control, it does add extra chaos to graduation week. Students and families are already being advised to start making travel arrangements as soon as possible. Graduation week is already stressful enough for graduates, with moving and starting their next adventure, and the triathlon just adds another element of chaos.

Church said changes are still being made to the commencement and timeliness, and the final schedule will be released at the beginning of the spring semester.

While we are not expecting immediate changes, it is time to survey students to see what their ideal graduation ceremony is. We’re not envisioning Taylor Swift giving a speech, even though that would be awesome, but rather decisions that have the best interests of the students in mind. Especially before graduation loses its importance for the graduates.