Members of the Class of 2016 are struggling to decide who they bring to commencement. In previous years, up to six tickets were allotted to graduating seniors, but the number began to decline when the Class of 2015 was allotted five tickets each.
Due to space and seating issues in the Warden Arena in the Alfond Sports Center, not everyone in attendance was able to see the ceremony during the last commencement.
This year, each senior has four tickets at their disposal, forcing some seniors to pick and choose which of their family members and friends see them graduate.Rollins College uses the ticketing system in order to limit the number of attendees in the venue.
“This practice of ticketing is very common at small liberal arts institutions, because small schools typically do not have large facilities to hold this number of people,” said Dr. Mamta Accapadi, Vice President of Student Affairs.
“It is a ticketed event to get a sense of the number of people we can expect in the building, because we have to be in compliance with the fire marshall, and there is a limit to the number of people that can be in that space,” she elaborated. “Given the limit, distributing tickets equitably among all seniors provides for fairness and equality.”
Some students, however, are concerned that the limited tickets will affect their graduation experience and that of their families.
“I think it’s a little unreasonable to have to pick and choose between your loved ones who can attend the ceremony, especially when it’s such an important part of transitioning into adulthood,” said Kayla Lucrezi ’16.
“I feel like the biggest issue was the lack of communication with us,” said Lenora Mendez ’16.
“I think in an ideal world we as seniors could have everyone and anyone we want at our graduations,” Ana Suarez ’16 explained. “But the space Rollins has doesn’t match their intake of students and now we all have to suffer for it.”
Interestingly, Hamilton Holt graduation is not ticketed, allowing students to bring as many family members as desired. The reason for this goes back to the same issue that A & S is currently experiencing with its graduating class: class size versus space.
“Holt graduation is not ticketed because they do not have the same number of students graduating in their class, so space is not an issue,” Dr. Accapadi said.
Some are calling for alternatives to ticketing for next year’s graduation.
“There are always alternatives to ticketing and we are considering all options. All of the options will require trade-offs,” Dr. Accapadi noted.
For example, changing the ticketing system to make it first come/first serve could result in some students having no family members at the event, while others could have several. Moving the event outdoors would make weather a factor; poor conditions could force the event to be held inside the Alfond Sports Center, again making space a concern.
Dr. Accapadi also pointed out that holding commencement off campus would take away from the Rollins traditions that have made graduation special for previous graduates.
Some seniors have started trying to buy or sell graduation tickets. Vallie Etienne ’16 commented on the students’ efforts to ensure their own family’s attendance at the event.
“The Class of 2016 group on [Facebook] is currently in shambles looking for extra tickets to buy off each other,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Hey, here’s 1000 tickets, Hunger Games it out,’ which is also stupid because I like to think that we’re a community and if I had extra tickets I would just give them away.”
DSuarez proposed a potential alternative method of ticket allotment to decrease the number of students selling their tickets.
“I don’t like that we each have a set amount – maybe at the beginning of the year it should be asked of each student how many they need and that way no one can sell them,” she said. “Since that is not the case, then graduates are gonna make some tough decisions. The first of many in life.”