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Commencement ceremonies smaller after policy change

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Extra commencement ceremonies have been added to alleviate crowd density, but a change in participation policy has helped achieve the same ends.

University officials are raising the amount of commencement ceremonies for both the fall and spring semesters in order to keep crowd density in proportion with Texas State’s increasing student population.

“Adding the extra commencement ceremonies has definitely helped,” said Adam Rodriguez, sergeant of the University Police Department. “It has absolutely alleviated some of the overcrowding we have experienced in the past.”

In the past, friends and family of graduating students have occasionally been forced to watch their loved ones walk the stage via televised live stream rather than in person due to overcrowding issues at Strahan Coliseum. This year, the university has focused its efforts on preventing that from happening.

“We didn’t feel crowded at all,” said Douglas Adams, father of a recent Texas State graduate and attendee of a spring 2016 commencement ceremony. “We were able to park, we took the shuttles, we were able to get into Strahan and get seats that were good for us. I didn’t notice anyone else having a problem with it either. I will say, though, we also planned to be there in advance. I can see how, if you didn’t arrive early, it could be difficult to get seating.”

Although the overflow rooms in Jowers Hall were utilized this year, attendees did not have to rely on them too heavily.

“Adding more ceremonies was, actually, very successful,” said Kristin McDaniel, commencement coordinator. “I think it’s been a year since we have added another spring ceremony, so we’ve had seven ceremonies for the past couple years for Spring, but we are looking at potentially adding more for next year.”

Another device that has aided university officials in alleviating crowd density during commencement ceremonies is a recent change in participant policy. The policy previously dictated that a student could attend commencement if they were within nine credit hours of graduating.

“We have just updated the policy this semester,” McDaniel said. “Now, seniors can walk the stage so long as they are within one requirement of graduating—maybe they have one more class to take or a thesis due, for example.”

As a result of this change in participant policy, 400 fewer students attended commencement this spring.

“Each ceremony was still large, but we definitely had a lot more room this year, and things ran smoother,” McDaniel said. “Now that we have gone through all of the spring 2016 ceremonies, we will be reviewing our schedule for next year to see where we might need to make adjustments.”

The seniors who attend their ceremony within one requirement of graduating must graduate the next semester in order to be allowed to walk the stage, McDaniel said. For example, if they attended commencement in spring, they must officially graduate in the summer.

“We haven’t had a follow-up meeting, so we haven’t had an opportunity to review all of our feedback yet,” McDaniel said.

The follow-up meeting will occur next week. University officials will discuss the logistics of graduation.

“We could possibly go up to maybe nine ceremonies in the future,” McDaniel said. “It all depends. It’s still in the works, but there could be eight or there could be nine for spring.”

During the upcoming fall semester, there will be six commencement ceremonies, whereas typically there are five.

“Commencement is more enjoyable for guests and graduates if the ceremony is slightly smaller, especially since Strahan will undergo an expansion in the next two years,” McDaniel said. “This is of benefit to the people attending.”