Students react to commencement ceremony changes

McClain Baxley and Anthony Belinfante

When announced on Wednesday that Georgia Southern University was making changes to their spring commencement ceremonies, students quickly began to react online.

Upon learning of the change, Gillian Woody, senior elementary and special education major, created a petition to raise awareness.

“I knew that a petition had helped when GS tried to move graduation to Hanner back in fall of 2016, so I figured I would try and see if people cared,” Woody said. “We now have over 3,700 signatures and the numbers jump every time I hit refresh.”

Signers of the petition range from students affected to changemakers outside of Georgia.

One of the signers was Micah Davis, senior early childhood education major.

“To have this ripped out from under me and my fellow peers in the education department it feels like a slap in the face, considering Georgia Southern was founded nearly over a hundred years ago as Georgia Teaching College,” Davis said. “I haven’t paid tuition for Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus, to have to graduate in a boring conference center that has no valuable meaning to me.”

Another signer is senior interdisciplinary studies major Rosanna Scott. Scott signed with intentions of preserving tradition at GS.

“At the end of our time here, however long it takes, we should all walk across the stage in Statesboro,” Scott said. “That’s our tradition.”

Woody’s petition has reached more than 7,000 people at the time of writing and she hopes the school will take notice and keep things the way its been.

“All I want is for each student, Statesboro and Savannah based, to be able to graduate on their home campus,” Woody said. “The merger has been official for over a year now and graduation on each campus has not been an issue. I don’t see why it needs to change.”

Woody hopes that the petition will help Savannah students as well, who are also being affected by the graduation changes.

“I don’t want them to feel as though we don’t care about the fact that they’re being forced to come here as well,” Woody said.

Shortly after hearing the news, senior public relations major Amy Connell signed the petition and encouraged others on Facebook to do the same.

“When I first heard the news, I thought it was fake. My heart hurt for those that are affected by this decision and will not be able to graduate on the field of Paulson,” Connell said. “As a senior who is graduating in May myself, this makes me sad for those who will not get the same experience that I will.”

Students and alumni react on Twitter

Following the announcement of the commencement ceremony change many took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the new plan.

{{tncms-inline account=”Gillian Woody” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">@GeorgiaSouthern</a> has informed professors that certain colleges will be graduating in Savannah, rather than Paulson Stadium! PLEASE CHANGE THIS! We choose Statesboro as our home, don't make us graduate in Savannah! <a href=""></a></p>— Gillian Woody (@GillianWoody) <a href="">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”Joe” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What a shame to my alma mater <a href="">@GeorgiaSouthern</a> University on their announcement to move certain colleges’ graduation ceremonies to Savannah. Of all the colleges, CoEd, which Southern was founded on, is in Savannah?!? I know some friends in their masters not attending!</p>— Joe (@joeqArmy) <a href="">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”Rikki” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thank you Georgia Southern for changing graduation after four years of my hard work. I, now, do not get to celebrate a tradition graduation with my friends and see each other walk across the stage.</p>— Rikki (@LegallyRikki) <a href="">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”Amanda Goode” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="">@gsuSGA</a> is there anything that can be done about this?? Families have paid for hotels, we weren’t made aware of needing to accommodate a limited amount of people and I spent my time here as a Georgia Southern Student. Not an Armstrong student! We want Paulson, please!! <a href=""></a></p>— Amanda Goode (@amandagoodee) <a href="">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”PrincessK❣” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Georgia Southern has officially lost it. Students just aren’t apart of any major decisions . Paulson Stadium is Home. You are literally taking that amazing moment of walking that that field away from some.</p>— PrincessK❣ (@KashariaP) <a href="">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

{{tncms-inline account=”A Bay Bay” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Twitter do ya thang… save graduation <a href="">@GeorgiaSouthern</a> <a href=""></a></p>— A Bay Bay (@BayleeBankson) <a href="">January 17, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”″ type=”twitter”}}

The George-Anne will share information on the commencement ceremony as it becomes available.

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Daily Managing Editor,

Anthony Belinfante, The George-Anne News Reporter,