December ceremony may be cut

Hannah Baker

Hannah BakerNews Editor

As costs skyrocket and budgets strings tighten, students graduating in the fall or summer semesters hoping to walk in the December graduation ceremony may have to wait until May.

The reason for the cut is simply because having two graduation ceremonies is expensive.

Not only do fewer students graduate after the fall and summer semesters, but participation is also lower. In 2009, there were 816 total fall and summer graduates. Of those 816 students, only 3898212;around 48 percent8212;attended the graduation ceremony. May 2009 commencement had 80 percent participation, with 1,034 of the 1,289 spring graduates at the ceremony.

Having one ceremony would save the university money.

Costs go up every year. From 2009 to 2010, the combined ceremonies’ cost to set-up and tear-down increased about $1,000, and the cost to rent Frost Arena saw an approximate $1,000 increase as well.

These were not the only areas of increase. Costs increased in nearly every category.

In just one year, total costs for the two ceremonies have seen over a 60 percent increase jumping from around $50,500 in 2009 to $80,000 in 2010.

Provost Laurie Nichols said Academic Affairs will hold the December ceremony in 2010 and 2011. She said if rising costs continue and there are future budget cuts, SDSU will have to forgo December commencement.

“We have scheduled December commencement for December 2010 and December 2011, so it would be a ways out,” Nichols said. “Part of the reason the 2010 budget is so much larger is because we paid for diploma covers twice in one year (2010). However, beyond that, the cost of commencement keeps going up each year. You can see this by simply comparing things like physical plant [and] athletic ticket office, etc.”

SDSU is not the only university in the area converting to having only one graduation ceremony. Several neighboring universities have also cut back to having just one commencement ceremony per year, including Utah State University, Montana State University and the University of Montana.

Kayla Huether, a business major from Rapid City said she thinks keeping both ceremonies and pulling funds from other areas may be the best option for SDSU and that it is “a tradition that should not be taken away”.

“I can understand where canceling the ceremony would help cut the costs, especially when funds are being cancelled and budgets are low,” Huether said. “However, I think canceling the ceremony would be more of a hassle than beneficial … Students graduating in December would be less likely to walk in the ceremony in the spring because it would be inconvenient, especially if the student has moved away.”

Sonja Langseth, a senior majoring in animal science and agricultural journalism, plans on graduating in December 2011. She is thankful she is graduating before this is implemented. She said it is ridiculous to have to return to walk because, by spring, many students may have already traveled far from South Dakota.

“I feel this would benefit the university in the means of saving money and having less planning for both semester graduations, but I believe it would be redundant for those who have graduated to have to return to SDSU just to walk,” Langseth said. “Not only this, but spring graduation ceremonies are typically already large. This would put added pressure on programs, time frames and spatial capacity.”

Drew Ruhlman, a pharmacy major from Brookings said there are worse things than cutting the December commencement ceremony.

“I guess if the university has to cut something, than they should cut the December ceremony,” Ruhlman said. “Since there is not a huge number of students that participate in it, it’s better that they get rid of that than cut back on staff or something else a lot of students use.”