In response to student concerns regarding the change in the venue for graduation commencement and, in turn, the change in commencement ticketing policy, SGA has established a Commencement Committee. The committee is made up of any students who want to communicate to those planning and making the decisions for commencement.
“Our goals are two-fold. One, work with the administration on figuring out how we can get more tickets for students for this commencement in May,” said Amit Khanduri, SGA Executive Vice-President who is also helping to lead this Commencement Committee. “We understand that there are constraints but based on the number of students showing concern at the open forum, that’s the first concern.”
Many ideas are being put out there with three primary ideas dominating the rest. The first is to set up a ticketing exchange system based on those with extra tickets and those who need more tickets. The second idea was splitting up commencement into two ceremonies, with CoE in one and remaining colleges in another ceremony. The final proposition was moving Commencement from McCamish Pavilion outside to Bobby Dodd Stadium, but still keeping the ceremony on campus.
“[Another] goal is to work on the overall graduation experience. From various students that graduated, they’ve said graduation feels very rushed. You may have a final on Friday and walk in commencement the next day and you don’t really get to make that last connection with Georgia Tech,” Khanduri said. “We’re trying to work on a few celebration ideas for events to make graduation a very pleasurable experience and appreciating the hard work of students in their time at Tech.”
The Commencement Committee is working on gaining support from larger organizations on campus like the Student Alumni Association and individual colleges to come up with a more concrete vision as to what these celebrations could look like and what can be done to really celebrate every student’s achievements.
The conversations initiated by the Commencement Committee with groups around campus are just getting started, with no changes currently being made. They have had and are planning to have more meetings with groups from the administration, who help plan the actual event of commencement and all details surrounding it.
“The Office of Special Events and Protocol within Institute Communications is responsible for the logistical planning and execution of the commencement ceremony from start to finish. This involves coordinating with multiple departments on-campus and the hiring of off-campus vendors,” said Matt Nagel, Director of Georgia Tech Media Relations and Issues Management.
While the SGA Commencement Committee and the Office of Special Events and Protocol are working together to discuss planning, ultimately neither sets policy because the Office of the President still handles all such decisions.
The primary goal of the Office of the President in making these changes has been bringing Commencement back to campus. Staying on campus is a priority in order to cut costs after cuts in state funding, while also keeping with the identity of one united Tech.
“The Institute is always looking for ways to improve the commencement experience. However, we don’t anticipate any major changes at this time,” Nagel said.
Although the conversation is just getting started, it will remain relevant until opinions on what has been done are changed. All groups involved are looking for feedback on ideas and for as many people as possible to be involved with the generation of more options and ideas as time goes on.