By Marilyn Bryant.
Lehman alumni critical of the commencement ceremony format are circulating a petition proposing changing it.
The petition asks for the ceremony to take place at night and for students to be allowed to walk to the stage to get their diploma.
“The whole process of commencement is impersonal and I am seeking to change it with this petition that is currently being circulated with the backing of the Student Government Association,” said Nelson Ortiz, 24, a Lehman business major who is vice-president of external affairs for the Student Government Association.
“Commencement is normally held in May, where the heat is uncomfortable for both graduates and their family and friends, and they do not even get to hear their names called unless they are graduating with honors,” Ortiz said.
As for the ceremony being held at night, Ortiz said, “We know there will be cost increases for lighting the field in order to better see graduates and their families, but I think that this is minimal. I don’t foresee any other changes in cost other then the light bill.
“I am open to suggestions or ideas, but the sheer size of the event makes the way ceremony is conducted necessary,” said Vincent Zucchetto, executive assistant to the vice-president of Student Affairs, and a 1975 Lehman graduate, who is responsible for the commencement ceremony.
“Even with an indoor facility big enough to house everyone,” Zucchetto said, “the cost is exorbitant so we would have to restrict access in order for it not to become overcrowded and people usually do not have the patience to wait and hear for their name to be called which is why we call out graduates by department discipline.”
“Many students are at Lehman for two to five years [and] to have that moment on stage for a couple of seconds means a lot,” said Ortiz.
“I expect to graduate this semester and walking may be cliche but that is the stuff families live for,” said Courtney Stark, 23, a history major, “especially [for] my family because this will be their first experience having a college graduate.”
Currently around 900 students have signed the petition, and Student Government’s goal is to reach 1,200 signatures.
Ortiz said that he and Student Government are preparing a formal proposal to present to the administration.