Unified UCSD Commencement Ceremony Looks Promising

The Campuswide Commencement Planning Committee has created a model for the 2016 commencement ceremony that will step away from the previous individualized ceremonies for all six residential colleges, and instead introduce a new, unified commencement for all graduating students.

Jonathan Monk, the president of the Graduate Student Association, stated, “The all-campus commencement will create a greater sense of UC San Diego community that lasts beyond graduation.” We fully support the idea of a more inclusive ceremony that allows friends and family members to share the valuable bonding experience of a single commencement. The Associated Students Concerts and Events Festivals Director Sean Kennedy, said, “College is a mix of so many different experiences that were shared with so many members of the UC San Diego community.” He continued to explain that the ‘grand finale’ event deserves to be collectively enjoyed as a unified group.

We appreciate these sentiments, although there are some potential challenges. One particular concern is how much this new design will add to the length of the ceremony. If the average ceremony takes a couple hours per individual college, how can this all-inclusive ceremony avoid being extremely time-consuming? Also, Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla suggested that this new tradition will serve as the best way to honor UCSD’s most recent alumni. Still, it is uncertain how the ceremony will manage to honor new alumni in a way that is considerate, attentive and time efficient. Individuals should not be rushed through the announcement and acceptance of their university diplomas, especially considering that most students have spent over a solid $100,000 for the right to acquire a four-year degree.

It is important to take into account the lengthy time commitment that individuals have spent as students pursuing academic studies and research. The sheer opportunity cost of all those hours spent poring over books and papers will seem to be spent in vain if the commencement ceremony glosses over their perseverance in a brief second or two. How the new all-inclusive model for the ceremony can respectfully recognize each student, within a major time crunch, is rather difficult to imagine. If students end up being clustered into numbered groups to receive their college diplomas this would seem highly insulting and degrading to their academic achievements.

All of these considerations aside, the biggest plus of this unified ceremony is the potential for an actual high-profile commencement speaker. Just like how UC Irvine was able to get President Barack Obama as its speaker in 2014, and how UCLA has had  the CEOs of Boeing and YouTube as speakers, we will hopefully be able to procure a commencement speaker who does the graduating class of UCSD proper justice. Even the Campuswide Commencement Planning Committee that recommended the changes to the ceremony wrote that one of the primary goals of the switch was to “allow the campus leadership to identify a high-profile speaker.”

We are students at an internationally acclaimed school and our commencement ceremony will finally be able to reflect that. It will be the administration’s job to make sure that the event is not a logistical nightmare, but as long as it does that, we are in favor of the changes.