December grads limited to four tickets

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What will happen at future commencement ceremonies as the graduating class grows larger every year?
Illustration: Eva Wilhite

Students graduating this December have noticed their ticketing privileges cut due to a graduating class that is growing larger every year. The 567 graduates who will be walking in the Felix Event Center that month will be allotted four tickets each to give to the lucky people in their lives who may watch them graduate.

“I have to change stuff in my plans because the school has changed the ticket number, and I think a lot of other people have also been put in that awkward position,” senior theology major Juliana Vasquez said. “I understand they need to cap how many people attend the graduation ceremony, but four is not enough.”

(OPINION: Paying the same price for less tickets)

In addition to the graduates, approximately 300 faculty members will be participating in the December graduation, according to the Commencement Team, which plans the majority of each graduation ceremony. The team is led by the associate registrar of undergraduates and is made up every year of approximately 10 staff representatives from the undergraduate, graduate and nontraditional registrars’ offices.

APU introduced graduation tickets in spring 2013 due to the increasing number of students walking each semester. Every one of the 855 students in the May ceremony, held in the Cougar Athletic Stadium (track field), was allotted 10 tickets. The 149 July graduates were also allotted 10 tickets each for their ceremony in Felix.

Alexander Rice graduated in May with a political science degree and said he invited at least eight of his close family and friends.

“I thought 10 tickets was enough. But I have a really small family,” Rice said. “I had to give away a couple of them to friends who didn’t have enough for their family.”

When he heard that December graduates are only receiving four tickets each, he was shocked.

“Rather than further and further restricting students, they should find a larger venue,” he said. “For example, my high school graduation was at the Anaheim Pond. If a high school can afford to rent that, then APU can certainly afford to rent another facility instead of using their own building.”

Two of APU’s three annual commencement ceremonies (December and July) are hosted in Felix due to weather concerns. However, Felix cannot accommodate as many people as Cougar Stadium, which is where all May ceremonies are held.

Felix can accommodate approximately 3,250 people while Cougar Stadium can host approximately 9,200, according to the Commencement Team. With 567 graduates and 300 participating faculty this December, if each grad brings four guests, that brings the total number of people to 3,135. If each grad were allotted five tickets, that would bring the total number of people to 3,702
352 spots overcapacity. Neither of these numbers include commencement staff of members of the Platform Party, who sit on the stage during the ceremony.

The Commencement Team realized the need for tickets after the winter 2012 ceremony, when the 1,000 guests present could not be accommodated in the Felix Event Center.

“We realized that in order to ensure that every graduate had a memorable experience with representatives from their friends and family there, we needed to ticket all future ceremonies,” the Commencement Team said in a statement to The Clause.

In an email in sent early September to all students who were expected to participate in the December ceremony, One Stop announced that each student will receive, in addition to the four tickets, two “alternate viewing area tickets” for various viewing stations in the Duke Academic Complex and Darling Library.

“I honestly don’t see the point of two people going to see the graduation in [an alternate viewing area]. It’s totally impersonal,” said Vasquez, who related it to watching chapel services from a screen instead of in person.

Senior journalism major Sonia Puente said she is excited to graduate after all her hard work at APU, but that she had hoped to invite more of her family and friends to celebrate with her.

“But it looks like I will have to invite only my close family, and I know some people are going to be upset,” Puente said.

The Commencement Team is working to create a plan for future commencement ceremonies since the graduating class currently grows larger every year. According to the Commencement Team, the Office of the President has commissioned a Commencement Task Force to evaluate commencement ceremonies over the next three months and come up with recommendations.