In late November, those who applied for graduation received an email from Undergraduate Commencement congratulating them and alerting them of the logistics of graduation, one of which is a newly enforced ticket allotment for each student. As a student with a fairly large, non-traditional family, I panicked. With the nine allotted tickets I would not be able to invite my entire family. I do not mean my aunt’s cousin twice removed; I mean my immediate family. I was going to have to potentially pick which siblings would get to attend the ceremony. These were people who supported me, sent care packages and received many panicked texts throughout the last four years. How could I choose who got to actually see me cross the finish line of a 17-year-long career in education?
I am not the only student feeling the strain from the limited tickets; the Class of 2019 Facebook group has increasingly seen posts asking people for any extras. They too have large families who expected to be part of the celebration. Given the vast amounts of financial and emotional support families have given to their students, this is a fair assumption. When I received the email I immediately reached out to Undergraduate Commencement asking when they would open the exchange system that they referenced in the original email. I was essentially told that they would set up a Facebook page or something of the sort somewhere along the line but that I should ask my friends if they had extra tickets.
This was a disappointing response to say the least. For students who are from out of state, or who have families from many different places, this does not allow time to make cost-efficient travel plans. Moreover, it takes responsibility away from the administration and puts it on the student. The college has since set up a system which allows students to request tickets and to donate any extras they have. Yet, while there is an option to donate all nine, students in need can only request five, with no guarantee they will be made available to them.
This ticket allocation is a new policy; when I asked recent alumni if they had a ticket allocation, they were flummoxed. They remembered inviting as many people as they wanted and there being empty seats during graduation. Many students could invite friends from younger years, something which has been pushed to the bottom of my list of graduation invitation priorities. I have to make sure my sisters have a ticket first. This alone flies in the face of the community values that Lewis & Clark claims to espouse. During winter break I checked the LC website for graduation information and found that the page had not been updated from the previous year, confirming that there was no limit on tickets (and also that the information is not updated frequently).
The reason for the ticket limit is a change in venue for graduation, from the Veterans Memorial Coliseum to the Oregon Convention Center. The question remains as to why there was a venue change and a ticket cap was implemented. Given that the class of 2019 was whimsically christened “Classzilla” upon our arrival at LC it seems odd that this would be the year they switch to a smaller venue. Is this, much like the defunding of abroad programs and the changes made to the Hoffman Art Gallery, yet another sign of LC being on the decline? Or a failure of the administration to reserve the Veterans Memorial Coliseum? If the reason is the latter, such procrastination will affect a culminating experience for many students and their families.
All this being said, if you have any extra tickets, please donate them; though the College may have let us down, we need not let each other down. I have been extremely lucky so far with the generosity of my classmates, and I am so thankful. However, your ability to provide everyone in your family access to this celebration should not be based on chance. It should be an assurance that goes with the personal community-based liberal arts education we were promised. While I have loved many things about my experience at LC, this choice on the part of the administration, purposeful or not, leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many seniors.
Written by Meagan Bradley.