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April 5, 2011 12:00 am

Point: Walking At Graduation


I’d like to start by saying that I’m currently a junior at St. Mary’s, and that the issue of graduating by name or by major is not one that immediately affects me. When next year comes around, I’m hoping that the students and faculty find a common ground between their opposing views, and that the Class of 2012 is also comfortable with the choice that seniors and the administration will discuss in an upcoming meeting to determine what is best for the students.  But given that a precedent might be set based on this meeting, and that many juniors are also talking about this subject to professors and others via email, meetings, and Facebook groups, it’s important that we and other classes begin to think about how we would want to remember the day we graduate.

President Urgo showed support for seniors graduating alphabetically when he began meeting with students throughout the year, noticing that students liked spending time as groups rather than just as majors outside of class, as far as I understand.  Given that the campus supports a tight, inclusive community, this would make sense, and if enough students knew each other across majors, there should not be a problem with graduating everyone together, as one united school, rather than by one of the 24 majors we offer.

However, we should take this a step further to analyze what it really means to graduate from St. Mary’s.  The experiences most students have here are certainly more than academic, and for all include mixtures of sports, theater, trips to the Point, community service, independence development, zombie hunting, shoe tree participation, sailing on the River, or even just hanging out with friends (as well as plenty of other things that could fill up an entire The Point News article, which would be awesome if someone reading this wants to do for our next issue – just saying).

Graduation certainly remembers all of these components.  But, to graduate, all of the requirements seniors need are academically-related. Graduation is about finishing an academic career and moving on to the workplace or higher education, while also remembering how hard we’ve worked while at St. Mary’s to get to the “Green” grass.  For most of us, all of that work, all of that time in class and doing homework, writing those papers and finishing on those presentations late into the night, is what we want to recognize.  When we graduate, it’s about what we had to do to get that degree, with everything else that defines St. Mary’s helping us to get to know each other, build connections, relax, and personally develop into independent adults and thinkers.

For me, the best way to represent that work is to spend those last few minutes in our academic undergraduate careers with those who worked alongside us, with those who spent the same time in class and doing the same homework, writing those same papers and finishing those same presentations late into the night.

We want to remember what it was like to finish that Physical Chemistry exam, to compile that last Robotics code, to finalize that last International Politics paper, to really understand the subtle nuances of that Bach piece.  Most students in each major are proud of the work they’ve done, and would want to remember their individual and very different focuses when they receive that diploma.

Professors would want to see the students that they taught walk together as a group of smiling faces and excited tears, as they say “those are our kids.”


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