ELLA KIRBY | NEWS CORRESPONDENT
Given the renovation of the Schuldes Sports Center currently underway, this year’s Senior Commencement Ceremony will be taking place on the Campus Center lawn as opposed to the Schuldes gymnasium, where it is traditionally held. This year’s Commencement will take place on Sunday, May 15. Fr. Jay Fostner, O. Praem, is responsible for coordinating the event, and President Tom Kunkel oversees and weighs in on it.
There will be between 450 and 500 students participating in this year’s commencement ceremony, and a total of 2225 seats will be placed outside. While each graduate is reminded to limit their number of guests to five, the ceremony will also be live-streamed to the Walter Theater, the Bemis International Center and Birder Hall for anyone else that would like to watch it.
The primary seating arrangement for the event will be chairs, but bleachers will also be used. According to Fostner, some of the smaller trees on the lawn will have to be cut down in order to make room for the event; however, these trees will be replanted.
As for rain precautions and procedures, Fostner said, “If it’s a complete storm, we would have to postpone for a little while it passes and do our best to wipe things down. If it’s sprinkling or raining, everyone is just going to get wet.”
Schneider Stadium was also considered as a location for the event, but for both logistical and aesthetic reasons, it was decided that the Campus Center lawn would be the most suitable space to host it. Schneider Stadium does not contain a sufficient amount of bathrooms for an event such as this, and the seating arrangement also proved to be problematic due to the soft turf on the field, which would have been damaged by the number of chairs put down.
“I think people are going to really appreciate that it’s here on campus, and the reason we ruled out the football stadium was just because logistically it was going to be too problematic. […] This way, [by having it on the Campus Center lawn] if people need the bathroom there’s a bunch of buildings they can go to, there will be a lot of shade for people that want to sit under the shade [and] everything’s going to be super convenient for receptions,” said President Kunkel.
“It’s going to feel more like you’re having the college commencement if you’re here amongst the quad, amongst the buildings, next to the river.” President Kunkel went on to say. “What’s going to be interesting about this is the fact that we had to try it outside; it’s going to be a bit of a pilot for us. […] I think if it turns out to be as lovely an event as I suspect it will be, people will be hopeful that we’ll do it again. I think that’s going to make it extra special for the students, and, if that’s the case, other graduation classes are probably going to be interested in at least talking about it.”
Because the Schuldes Sports Center construction began at this point in the academic year, the Senior Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2017 will be held back in the newly renovated Schuldes gymnasium.