As the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens. Well, for Montclair State University, the opposite can also be true. Montclair State decided to bring back convocation, but cancel the January commencement. Provost Willard Gingerich stated in a letter to the Editor-in-Chief of the Montclarion that the commencement was removed because students and family members were disgruntled by the disarray and lack of organization of it last year. While it’s apparent that many students are excited for convocation, they are not happy about the school’s rash decision to take out winter graduation.
There are several reasons why this is a bad decision by Montclair State. The first is that the January commencement was put in place for students who finished early, or were behind a semester and wanted to graduate as timely as possible. So rather than have to wait to complete their next semester, they could receive their diplomas at the time they are ready to graduate. By doing this, students could comfortably plan their future and find a job right after school. Montclair State’s cancellation of the January commencement with such a short notice has placed students in very uncomfortable and uncertain positions. In response, students have decided to start a petition.
Professionally speaking, someone should have considered some serious questions on the idea boards before the announcement. What about the students who factored their early graduations into travel plans? While it may have been disorganized last year, students find it much more inconvenient to simply take a day off to go to their ceremony long after they finish school. One step further, what about the students who drove themselves into the ground just to finish early and then have to wait to wear a cap and gown? It’s quite frankly a slap in the face because it undermines all their hard work.
The petition is full of comments that highlight the injustice of Montclair State’s actions. One comment says that after five months, the novelty of graduation will wear off and students will be alumni already. It dishonors the whole essence of graduation. No matter the length of time, season or semester taken to get there, graduation is supposed to be a milestone in a student’s life. Maybe later on they can return to school to pursue a higher degree or a different field, but graduating first as an undergraduate is the most precious time. For the students and their families, it does not make any sense to cancel something so important.
Of all the things Montclair State could attempt to improve, graduation should be one handled with delicacy. They stopped having convocations last year, which angered those who graduated in May 2017. This year, they seemed ready to rectify their mistake by reinstating convocation, but then smashed expectations by removing January commencement. The school should think long and hard before making rash decisions, and opt for more reasonable attempts to improve the school.