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Facebook forum discusses options to avoid commencement class split

By Liz MerinoStaff Writer

Changing Commencement Forum is a Facebook page created by a group of seniors dissatisfied with changes to the May 2013 commencement. The page’s aim is not only to alert the Hofstra community of the changes, but also to plan a response to the changes.

Changing Commencement Forum was created in October of 2012 when reports first became public that the commencement ceremony had changed. Chelsea Tirrell, a dual print journalism and creative writing major, had high hopes for the group from the beginning.

“We were hoping that with a group, we’d create a stir and spread the word,” said Tirrell. “That way, we’d have opinions from all directions to support our confusion, anger and hurt.”

The group consists of a little over 300 members, mostly seniors, who have posted sporadically over the past few months. They look for new information while venting their frustrations.

“Changing Commencement Forum has alerted many people to the cause,” said Tirrell. “The more we talk about it, the more people hear, the more people want to strike a change. All it took was a small gesture and that in itself caused a major movement.”

Provost Berliner is aware of student frustrations and has been working with numerous members of administration to make commencement enjoyable for all involved.

“I have heard of the Facebook group but haven’t looked at it,” said Berliner. “It’s very important for students to give us feedback and their opinions.”

Jenny Hart, a dual print journalism and global studies major, has visited the page.

“I think the Facebook group definitely helped get awareness out, but other than that I don’t think there’s much of a purpose to it,” said Hart. “If anything changes, it’s going to be because of my classmates who have put in the time and effort to meet with administration to express our concerns.”

The schedule proposed for this May’s commencement divides graduates by their major. HCLAS commencement takes place with the School of Education at 9 a.m. in the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. The School of Communications and the School of Business graduate at 1:30 p.m. in the same location.

Despite some students’ concerns over dual majors and conflicting ceremonies, Berliner explained that dual majors don’t have to choose. “Double majors are entitled to go to both,” he said.

“Although similar broad graduation statements and well wishes will be made at both ceremonies, each graduation will also include specific comments and dignitaries related to their respective schools,” said Vice President Sandy Johnson.

The move from the James M. Stuart Stadium to the Mack Complex cuts the number of tickets for each graduate, limiting attending family and friends.

“Is it perfect? I’m not going to tell you its perfect—I’d love to do it all together,” said Berliner. “The facility we use just has to work rain or shine.”

Tirrell met with Johnson back in October of 2012 to discuss initial student concerns. Among major points brought up by Tirrell, one concerning the senior toast made the most impact on Johnson.

“Over the past years the senior toast has had more and more student and family participation,” said Johnson. “It is one of many events that mark entry into the world of being alumni members and graduating.”

A small group of seniors plans to meet with Berliner on Friday the 15th. The administration has so far been credited with answering almost every unhappy email, but some still hope more can be done.

“I’m hoping there will be a change of heart,” said Tirrell, “but something tells me we’re not there yet. At least not this year.”

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