Montclair State has recently reworked graduation— eliminating school-based convocations for the 2016-17 school year and separating the graduation celebrations of undergraduate and graduate students.
For previous Montclair State graduates, convocation, which was held on campus, was a time to celebrate with their respective schools and to receive their diplomas. Then, at a later date, commencement served as an opportunity for all graduates to gather for a final time to celebrate. But from here on out, convocations will be done away with altogether.
These changes, explained on the Montclair State website, are due to an increasing number of graduates along with “the university’s limited ability to hold graduation-sized events on campus.” In order to remedy this problem, university officials decided it was in everyone’s best interest to only attend one graduation ceremony in Newark, N.J. to commemorate the graduates’ success.
Montclair State believes this solution accommodates the needs and wants of the students to have “an exciting and satisfying experience in which their achievements are personally recognized.”
Unfortunately, few graduating students of the Class of 2017 will feel as if their achievements are personally recognized because during the one ceremony, all graduates will have their names called as they cross the stage to receive their diploma. There is nothing personal or celebratory about a final cattle call for the Class of 2017. If anything, it furthers students’ beliefs that they are a nameless face in a crowd of students at Montclair State.
In May 2015, 1,137 graduate students received their master’s degrees and 3,446 undergraduates received their bachelor’s degrees. These numbers will only continue to increase as more students come to Montclair State. Students have spent four long years at Montclair State and they should not have to wait another four years just to wait to hear every single name called at graduation.
Not to mention, the sentimentality of the event is jeopardized with the possibility of having a student’s name botched in front of thousands of people. With a record number of students graduating from Montclair State each year, each class will have a longer ceremony than the year before them.
However, in May 2015, 581 students graduated from College of Education and Human Services and attended the College of Education and Human Services Convocation. Clearly, watching 581 graduates walk across a stage is far more palatable than watching 3,446 individuals get their name called.
What makes convocations so personal is that graduates are able to celebrate with their friends and professors at home on Sprague Field. These ceremonies highlight what it is like to be part of a specific school at Montclair State. It is where students can share their relief, joy and happiness not only with their family, but also with the professors they studied under for four years, and the classmates who helped them through everything. It is a special moment, and graduates will be losing out on that intimacy at commencement.
Even just being at home on Sprague Field offers a sentimental feeling as student close a chapter of their life. Graduating anywhere but Montclair State just does not feel right. After spending such crucial years on Montclair State’s campus, it would be nice to celebrate there.
These changes seem to take into account the feelings of the university officials who must attend the events, rather than the students they celebrate. Officials will have fewer speeches to give, less planning to do and one ceremony to attend.
Montclair State is searching for solutions to a non-existent problem. Graduations have never been a problem for students. Instead of fixing non-existent problems, Montclair State needs to focus on the problems that plague everyday life on campus.
These changes look like a step in the right direction, but they only seem to hurt those who matter the most, graduating students. While it is too late for the Class of 2017, hopefully, future graduating classes will be able to celebrate properly.