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SGA Scoop 11/26/11


Chair of the Commencement Committee, Patrick Dilger, spoke at the most recent Student Government Association meeting on Friday, Oct. 21, about the possibility of moving the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencement Center to another location.

The usual location, the Connecticut Tennis Center, has been steadily deteriorating and the conditions no longer seem adequate.  It also tends to become very warm inside, leading to hazardous health conditions and to people leaving the ceremony early.  Additionally, there have been parking issues—a lack of space and inconsistencies in availability.

The Committee has thus been considering other venues, particularly indoor areas in which weather would not be an issue.  While they initially looked for an area within New Haven, there does not seem to be a facility that is indoors and large enough to accommodate Southern’s graduating students and their families.

At the moment, the Commencement Committee is leaning toward the Webster Bank arena.  This arena is a well-kept, climate-controlled environment which would save the university thousands of dollars in commencement costs.  Additionally, unlike the Connecticut Tennis Center, the Webster Bank arena has Internet access, so if Southern wanted to live stream graduation, it would be a possibility.

The main downside to Webster Bank arena is that there are limited seats.  Southern would therefore need to limit tickets per graduate to four (though students would have the ability to request more).  However, the Commencement Committee has looked to the University of Bridgeport as a mode of comparison.  UB graduates are approximately the same number of students; they have found that allotting tickets to graduating seniors balances out, because while some students need more than four tickets, there are others who need only a few tickets or none at all.  Ticketing is the norm for most colleges and universities, so the Commencement Committee thinks that it will work at Southern as well; nonetheless, they are sensitive to student concerns.

Additional downsides to the Webster Bank arena may include possible traffic delays on I-95, but the Merritt Parkway is a possible alternative route.  Also, parking at the arena is $5 per car, but the Commencement Committee would ask the university to cover these costs.

The Executive Board members from the senior class government were in attendance and voiced some of the student concerns.  Overall, Melissa Genovese, senior class president, stated that the seniors did not seem opposed to moving graduation but were just concerned about the possible limitation on the number of guests.

The Senior Class Government and the Student Government Association seemed to be in consensus regarding the possibility of moving commencement; the two organizations will be working together to potentially table and poll this year’s graduates in order to gain a better understanding of seniors’ opinions.

The most important thing to remember is that if commencement is moved to Webster Bank arena – or any other venue—the move would be experimental.  While Southern is limited for options because there is not another venue in New Haven that could accommodate our graduation ceremony, the Committee is not trying to make this a permanent change.  In fact, once construction on Buley Library is completed, the Committee would like to consider moving commencement outside to the academic quad.

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