JAYCIE COOPER & HALEY NIGHTINGALE write:
To the Editor:
The Class of 2019 is the biggest yet to graduate from Manhattan College, and as a result, will only receive two tickets for their loved ones to attend Commencement. Draddy Gymnasium, the College’s historic Commencement location is limited in space and will not allow more than two tickets per graduate.
While we are proud of the recent increase in enrollment, we are extremely disappointed by the negligence this school has shown towards its students, their families and friends. Instead of inviting families to celebrate the successes of their loved ones, the school’s response has been to decrease the number of tickets provided to each student. We believe this is not an appropriate response by any means and this issue deserves to be addressed by the administration whether that be in the form of an increase of tickets or a venue change.
On Monday, October 29th, students noticed information regarding the 2019 Commencement was available on the Manhattan College website. To the students’ surprise, under the ticket tab, it read, “Graduation announcements, two tickets and instructions for commencement will be distributed…” Immediately, all student communication platforms were overwhelmed with words of disbelief and disappointment. In the past, students had been allotted three tickets for Commencement. Why should this year be any different?
When Student Government was made aware of this issue, we knew it was our responsibility to advocate for the student body. One student in particular, a member of the assembly, was significantly angered and decided to take the first step towards change for the students of Manhattan College. In the matter of hours, a proposal was drafted with possible solutions, all of which shared a similar goal — to increase the number of tickets. The student scheduled a meeting with the necessary administration to voice the immediate concerns of the students. The meeting ended on a note of uncertainty about what could be done.
That evening, frustrated by the lack of feasible solutions, we began to brainstorm other ways we could advocate for the students. We needed a way to represent the number of people impacted by the decrease in tickets. At approximately 11 PM on the same night of the meeting, we decided a petition was a step in the right direction. Within minutes, the petition was shared all over social media and had hundreds of signatures and comments from students and their families. In less than 24 hours, the petition gained over 2,000 signatures.
We feel it is important to share some of the most pressing comments posted within the petition:
“I love Manhattan College and I will cherish the experiences that I had as a student here. It saddens me to know that my thoughts and opinions regarding this institution will be tarnished by the commencement ceremony that has been planned for us.”
“Manhattan College should be ashamed of themselves for this decision. They will also cause their new alumni to potentially turn around on the school upon graduation, and not get the donations which keeps the school funded. I hope Manhattan College goes back on this decision and does right by the students, who’ve done right by them”
“My daughter is graduating and now her little sister (who wanted to be a Jasper), can’t see her graduate. My youngest daughter now has no interest to attend Manhattan because of this.”
“With the current condition of the school (mold in the dorms, old buildings that are falling apart, etc) you’d think they’d have the money to at the very least give their future alumni a proper send off”
These are by no means outlying sentiments. The Class of 2019 received an e-mail from Provost Clyde, acknowledging calls and e-mails from the Manhattan College community. Unfortunately, the e-mail failed to address the actual problem and gave no solution. This problem arose due to a lack of planning that is to be laid directly at the feet of the administration. Most of the administration view this problem as something that merely affects the graduating Class of 2019. However, what they fail to recognize is the impact this will have on our future alumni, the image of the institution, and the Jaspers to come. This issue does not just affect the graduating class and their families but threatens the longevity of the school we love so much.
It is our hope that moving forward, if nothing else, this movement will guarantee a better graduation for the future students of Manhattan College. We are thankful to the members of the Manhattan College community who have spoken out and advocated for change.
We must not end here, though. As Helen Keller says, “Alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much.” We, as the Manhattan College community, are tasked with continuing our efforts to hold administration accountable. Student Government hears you, and we will continue to fight for you. We are optimistic that every call, e-mail, signature and voice will make a difference and ultimately, we will be able to guarantee a memorable Commencement for the Class of 2019 and beyond.
Please join us this Wednesday, November 14 at 12:00 PM on the fifth floor Kelly Commons as we further discuss Commencement with the members of Manhattan College administration. Our power and voice lies within the student body.
Vice President of Club Administration, Student Government
Student Body President, Student Government