By: Akin Shoyoye
I remember when I was first told about the new graduation format. It was over lunch with a friend at La Cocina. A ceremony for all six Rutgers University schools at the Prudential Center did not seem like a bad idea. It’s something I probably would have thought about doing because it made sense to knock it all out in one shot. Hindsight, however, is always 20/20 and having a ceremony for over 2000 graduates was not the best of ideas.
I didn’t mind waking up early to catch the shuttle and check-in. It was a day in which I had the opportunity to not only celebrate the accomplishment of earning my Bachelor’s degree, but also to celebrate alongside some of my closest friends. The cheers of my family and friends from the stands were just how I imagined as I walked onto the stage. While it was a day of smiling and cheering as Chancellor Nancy Cantor emphasized, it also felt like an endurance test for graduates: How long could one wait while he or she heard hundreds and thousands of names read before theirs was called to walk upon the stage?
The ceremony was much too long. Graduates and their families began to leave as the patience of many were tested. People left in droves as it wore on creating more noise than needed. It wasn’t fair to the other graduates who were yet to have their name called in front of their families. By the end of the day, it all felt like a cop out.
The extra money spent on having separate graduations seems to be worth it not only in the interest of time, but for the sake of simply sharing the joy and celebrating the achievements of young people.
My time at Rutgers University-Newark was certainly an experience I will not forget. Yes, even the graduation ceremony. It was the first time the university combined the ceremonies, but for the sake of future graduates I hope it was the last.