Students sound off on commencement changes


Katherine Arntzen

Graduates at the 2019 Waters College of Health Professions Spring Commencement Ceremony. Photo by Katherine Arntzen

Lila Miller, A&E Editor

“Now I get to say I went to Armstrong.” – Jason Albritton

After being confronted with overwhelmingly negative feedback over the new arrangement of the Armstrong and Statesboro campus commencement ceremonies last spring, GSU has announced a new initiative for the future. Graduating students will now be able to choose between attending the commencement ceremony at their home campus of Armstrong or the Statesboro campus. Students will no longer have to attend both in order to be recognized for their collective and individual achievements. 

After extensive research, surveyance, group focus and community involvement, GSU has ratified the commencement schedules for Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

Jennifer Wise on behalf of the Office of Communications and Marketing sent out a student and faculty wide email announcing the new improvements. The new ceremony changes are being implemented immediately. There are many reasons behind the adjustments being taken into account. 

 “Providing a quality, robust experience for graduates and guests was paramount to the plan creation. Other priorities that surfaced during the discussions: [GSU will]

  • Provide ceremonies both in Statesboro and Savannah.
  • Allow students to choose which campus ceremony they want to attend.
  • Ensure students are properly recognized.
  • Consider staff’s ability to safely plan, staff, police, manage and support different   ceremonies.”

Ticketing will be required for these ceremonies to ensure the size of the audience does not exceed the size of the venues. 

The number of tickets given out to each graduate will depend on the size of the graduating class, and university staff are already exploring options on how to create a ticket bank where unused tickets from one graduate can be made available for others who need extra tickets. 

A per-person ticket count has not yet been decided. There will be no charge for tickets. 

The Spring 2019 Commencement ceremony for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Hanner Field House. Photo by Jonathan M. Chick.

The university will again have overflow seating/alternative viewing areas and live-streaming for those who do not get tickets.

As the commencement changes affect students first and foremost, our staff writers sought out students on their reception of the news.

“I think it makes it convenient for the people that live in Savannah…as opposed to having to drive all out to Statesboro.” – Rechel Eads

“I think that it’s pretty solid that you can choose where you can go for now. I’m still a decent amount away from graduating, though, so I don’t know how I really feel about it. I will more than likely graduate here [in Savannah],” ruminated Nicholas Kelly. 

“I like it because I wanted to go the Armstrong and not Georgia Southern, so now I get to say I went to Armstrong,”  Jason Albritton related.

“I feel indifferent…I guess it’s pretty cool then that you can choose…It’s kind of weird having two different graduations. Now that I think about it, why wouldn’t we do it in just Statesboro [or Savannah]? Now that I actually start to think about it, it’s kind of weird. Because, I mean Statesboro is only 45 minutes away…. This is news to me,” Eric Cannaday said as he shrugged.

”I think it makes it convenient for the people that live in Savannah…as opposed to having to drive all out to Statesboro.  My first option–I was going to Statesboro, and I think that’s too far. So I switched schools at the end of the year. I’m going to graduate here [in Savannah now],” remarked Rechel Eads.

“In a way I’m glad… So, I started in Armstrong–I transferred to Armstrong. So when they did the merger…I didn’t know what it was going to affect…I didn’t know the consequences of transferring but it affected a lot of things for me. So now I have to take an extra semester. 

Previously–in my previous class last semester, some students were graduating, and were upset because they had to go all the way to Statesboro just to walk across the stage to graduate. When they’ve been to Armstrong longer than I have and have a loyalty to Armstrong. So to them it was a huge inconvenience…I mean having to get your family out there…It’s just crazy. 

“I like it because people in Statesboro don’t have to travel to Savannah, and people in Savannah can just graduate in the city of Savannah and it’s convenient for everyone.” – Hope Chiles

I was thinking [that I would graduate] probably in Savannah because my grandma is here–my aunts, uncles, and cousins. So it would be easier for them to be in Savannah or Statesboro. For me personally it would be easier for it to be in Savannah. I had a friend that had classes in Statesboro but she lived on [Wilmington] Island. But, she had to travel from the island a whole two hours prior to her class just to get to Statesboro on time.

 So, it’s inconveniencing a lot of people but I’m glad they finally, finally considered, ‘Hey! Let’s have a graduation in Savannah because it’s easier for people that live in Savannah and have to travel–it’s less of a hassle. I like it because people in Statesboro don’t have to travel to Savannah, and people in Savannah can just graduate in the city of Savannah and it’s convenient for everyone. I like it that way,” explained Hope Chiles.

For the Fall 2019 ceremony, undergraduate and graduate students will graduate together. Students can choose the location where they would like to graduate.

The Savannah ceremony will be Friday Dec. 13 at the Savannah Convention Center. The  Statesboro ceremony will be on Saturday Dec. 14 at Paulson Stadium. 

Ultimately, the ramifications of the commencement changes are yet to be seen, but at the very least, students are hopeful to have a fulfilling and memorable graduation experience.