Commencement is not about selfie opportunities

By Editor-in-Chief

For weeks, I have listened to rumors swirl around campus that Commencement 2015 will not be held at the Chicago Theatre, the venue that has housed graduation for the last three years. 

As evidenced by the Front Page story about graduation, the rumors are true, and commencement will be held at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University this year and for the foreseeable future. 

Despite the administration making it clear to the college community that the decision to change venues is because of the Chicago Theatre’s inability to guarantee itself as venue in the future, students are still calling on the college administration to change back to the Chicago Theatre. Several students have even spearheaded a petition, with many claiming they would not attend the ceremony because of the change. 

If graduation is no longer being held at the Chicago Theatre compels students to miss out on commencement, then great! I do not want to share such a special day with people who fail to recognize that the actual ceremony is more important than the location.

Graduation is supposed to be a moment that acknowledges the accomplishment of completing four years of hard work. It is not meant to be a moment for graduates to take vapid vanity selfies in front of a well-known marquee. Instead of thinking about the lost opportunity to see what Instagram filter works best for Facebook profile pictures, graduates should be more concerned with what comes after college: the scary thing called “real life.” 

As a senior preparing to graduate in the spring, I must admit that I am a little bummed that I will not be graduating at the iconic Chicago Theatre. But I certainly did not choose to transfer to Columbia for the chance to receive my diploma there, nor did I think of it as a motivator when I was buried in homework and work for The Chronicle. 

The college can’t host commencement on campus, so the next best thing is to find a venue as close to Columbia as possible, and the Auditorium Theatre provides that. The Auditorium Theatre by all accounts sounds like a better option: It has more seating and offers a larger space, meaning that the ceremony might be a little more comfortable than the claustrophobic ceremonies held at the Chicago Theatre.  

Several students have also made the point that having graduation at another college—particularly one that is often seen as a friendly rival and neighbor—takes away from school spirit. I fail to see the connection between the Chicago Theatre and Columbia, so school spirit does not really play a part. The Auditorium Theatre, on the other hand, has a longstanding relationship with the college. It is often the venue for the annual Open House, which is sometimes a student’s first introduction to Columbia.

Admittedly, the process could have included more student insight. While commencement is a time for colleges to celebrate its students, it is essentially about the students’ experiences. A college-wide poll for graduating seniors would have been ideal, but realistically, the college had to move fast to secure a venue.

It may seem like a disappointment now, but come graduation day, the only thing that matters is the culmination of years of work. Students should focus more on beginning their professional careers or preparing for the next step in their education and lay off the administration about the venue change. The change is not the end of the world, and the administration acted admirably in securing a distinguished venue with a limited amount of time.