December grads want their own ceremony

by Staff

After four and a half years of blood, sweat and tears, senior Andrew Torres will graduate in December 1998, but he will have to wait five months for his “pat on the back.”

Torres said that after all his hard work he put in at San Diego State University, there is something special about being immediately congratulated by a commencement ceremony. Instead, he said, he will be “left hanging” until May, when he will partake in an “anti-climactic” ceremony.

“I’ll be walking out of my last final this December, and there is nothing to say, ‘Hey, you’re done, congratulations,’ until May,” he said.

Although thousands of students finish their requirements for graduation in December, to celebrate this accomplishment they must wait until May, the only time a commencement ceremony is offered at SDSU.

“We are definitely looking into (a December commencement ceremony),” said Barbara Hartung, executive assistant to SDSU President Stephen Weber.

Hartung said because of the money it costs to put on a commencement ceremony and the timing it takes to organize events correctly with the students, SDSU has not invested in a December ceremony.

The average cost of the ceremony is $110,000, according to Hartung. This cost includes renting Cox Arena and the Open-Air Theater.

The timing is also crucial for students who are just completing finals and trying to organize the possible arrival and commencement attendance of their family members, Hartung said.

“There is a very short window between finals and winter vacation. I believe there is only one Sunday we could hold commencement,” she said.

Torres said he wouldn’t mind the rush of completing finals and attending a commencement ceremony if it meant he could graduate in 1998.

A survey is currently being designed to gather student opinions on the December graduation issue, said John Gaughen, assistant director of the Student Resource Center. It will be given to juniors, seniors and graduate students at the end of this month.

“We have never had a (December graduation) before,” Hartung said. “Some students leave the area after graduating (without participating in a commencement ceremony), so it’s a good idea.”

At least two other California State Universities hold December graduations ? Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and CSU Northridge.

Torres said he is losing a sense of camaraderie for SDSU because he has to wait five months to participate in his commencement ceremony.

“I will graduate from San Diego State, but the ceremony is a day late and a dollar short,” he said.

He added that in protest to this discrepancy, he will order 1998 class ring and tassel and wear it to the 1999 ceremony.

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