Wednesday, January 9, 2008

University of Michigan Commencements

On a sunny April 28th morning, 6,500 graduates of the University of Michigan sat in the most beautiful of places, listening to one of the most inspiring men, and reflecting on the most memorable time of their lives.

I, along with my classmates, sat on the field of the only stadium large enough to be called the Big House, listening to the most loved President in recent time, Bill Clinton, deliver an unforgettable commencement speech, at the single most amazing campus in the world.

With 59,000 supporters in the seats, graduation surpassed every expectation I had.

The administration has declared that Commencements will take place at Eastern Michigan University, located 6.5 miles from campus. Students will be shuttled to and from the ceremony. The administration has stated that parking will be better and measures will be taken to give it a "Maize and Blue feel."

Give me a break. Let's not even dive into the logistical nightmare the shuttles will cause. You want to bus thousands of hungover and untimely college students to Ypsilanti in the early morning??

The class of 2008 has every right to be upset at an administration that didn't seem to explore creative options for an on campus alternative to the Big House. Logistically speaking, the administration either knew about the Big House's inability to host Commencements for months, or carelessly overlooked them (which I cannot believe). Regardless of what decision they were bound to make, they should have at least pretended to care what the graduates wanted. A simple survey like THIS could have been sent in an email asking students if they preferred 2 tickets at Crisler Arena or 8 tickets at Eastern's Rynearson Stadium. At least then the University could have said they weighed all options and made a decision that they believed was most appropriate.

To complicate matters, the VP of Student Affairs, Royster Harper, stated in a Michigan Daily article that there is a chance students could overturn the decision and Commencements could be held at Crisler Arena. While I am glad that the administration isn't calling this a done-deal, I am wary. If the administration was seriously considering overturning their decision (which I am not sure they are), why would they send an email stating a decision has already been made, evoking a very aggressive reaction from students? Why would they then allude that the students should wreak havoc in order to get their way? I quote Harper verbatim: "If there was a cry from the folks that are really affected - these current seniors - and it was 80 or 90 percent of them, that would be worth a pause."

Really Harper? 80-90%? Is that a scientific number? And you propose yielding that number how? By adding it to the Michigan Primary on Tuesday? There is no way to prove that "80 or 90 percent" of them want change. However, now you have them organizing on a grass roots level, spamming the hell out of Regents, Administrators, and various University departments, and writing an endless amount of letters to various media outposts bringing negative attention to the U.

I hope for Harper's sake that that the administration is seriously considering overturning their decision and told her to go on record and make that claim. She has given students even more incentive to blow this up. This isn't Proposal 2, Israel, or MSA -- which rile some students up but leave most apathetic. This has struck a cord with Peter who plays video games in South Quad all day just as much as it did with the campus activist who pursues any chance to start a revolution.

This is going to get ugly.