Half of graduates may not attend commencement

OnTay Johnson

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Based on 2005 CSUN statistics, the number of students who are able to graduate but do not attend the commencement ceremony could be around 50 percent for the 2006 commencement ceremonies.

Christopher Aston, activities coordinator for Student Development and International Programs, said that generally nearly half of graduating students do not attend their own graduation ceremony.

The numbers are determined when official name cards are passed out to participating graduates and collected after the ceremony. The cards are then contrasted to graduate numbers provided from CSUN’s Institutional Research, said Aston, also the University Commencement Coordinator for SDIP.

“Sometimes 40, 50, even 60 percent, don’t walk, but it depends on the department,” he said.

Aston said in 2005, 60 percent of the university’s eligible graduates attended their commencement ceremonies, but in some departments it can be 90 percent.

Terry Piper, vice president for Student Affairs, said that he does not know exactly why students do not attend, but there could be a number of reasons.

“I would think that the students have other commitments to a point in which they might not see the value or importance in attending,” he said.

Piper also said that some students might feel unmoved by their graduation.

“Some may not see their time at CSUN as a very positive experience, and so they may not feel connected to the ceremony,” he said. “So they may not be eager to sit out there in the sun. It’s hot out there, you know?”

Jonathan Silva, a fourth-year CTVA student, who plans on attending his graduation ceremony, said that some students just want to get out.

“They don’t feel like they need to take part,” Silva said. “It’s not a big deal to them, but I want to (participate). It’s a big day, and my family is going to be there, so I think it’s important.”

Rudolph Acuna, a professor of the Chicano/a Studies Department, said that it is up to the individual students to attend, and they should not feel bad about not attending there graduation ceremony.

“You don’t know what’s going on in their life,” he said. “Maybe they can’t afford it, or they have to work or have a family.”

Acuna admitted to not being concerned with attending his own ceremony when he graduated.

“I didn’t want to,” he said. “I got married when I was 19 ? and I just wanted to get out. My objective was to work because I had to, so I think it’s entirely up to the individual.”

Jerry Stinner, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics, said graduation is something to be remembered and should be highly esteemed by students.

“I actually believe it’s important. It’s a milestone in someone’s life,” he said. “It represents a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s one of those things always remembered.

“As many times that I’ve been to a ceremony – as a professor – I’m still touched because it’s very meaningful,” he said.

Stinner said he wished that the percentage of people graduating was higher, but he is glad 60 percent attended last year.

“In once sense I’m delighted, because we are a commuter campus,” he said.

But he reaffirmed his own convictions about an event such as commencement.

“I don’t think students should underestimate or minimize this accomplishment,” he said.

“I wish that students would understand how important this is.”