Commencement in the red zone

By Jacob Dowell

April 16, 2014

Commencement will look a lot different this May, as Missouri Western aims to develop a new tradition.

Graduation will now take place in the Spratt Memorial football stadium for one large ceremony, instead of the traditional two, separate ceremonies formerly held in the Looney Complex.

According to Jennifer McDonald, executive administration associate, this new commencement ceremony serves to help the growing university find new traditions, get all of the graduates together and to show off the beautiful campus.

McDonald and a committee of administrators from several different offices have been working since February 2013, after President Robert Vartabedian proposed having the ceremony outside.

“The president suggested that we take a look at getting all the graduates together, maybe start new traditions,” McDonald said.

Additions to the ceremony include the firing of the Phi Sigma Kappa cannon, the possibility of rubbing a Griffon statue’s head as graduates walk past center field, designated photography locations around campus, the receiving of diplomas through two lines instead of on stage and a nearly unlimited number of guest capacity.

The unpredictable Missouri weather has been a major concern for the committee, and has led to the development of a backup plan and several weather accommodations.

The ceremony will only be cancelled for the major natural phenomenons, such as lighting, tornados or a downpour.

Commencement is set to begin at 11 a.m., but unfavorable weather will trigger a two hour postponement.

If the weather doesn’t break after two hours, the ceremony will again be postponed. If, at 4 p.m., the weather has not turned around, a photo opportunity will take place at Looney -- without a ceremony.

A light mist will not change or delay the ceremony, but will allow the graduating students some weather protection.

“We will be providing clear-colored ponchos for the graduates and platform party to help keep them protected,” McDonald said.

Small umbrellas will also be allowed.

Many seniors have voiced their opinions, ranging from positive to negative remarks on the change to graduation.

“They should’ve probably just left it inside in case of bad weather,” Alex Guinta, health and exercise science major, said. “I’m fine with it being outside, as long as it doesn’t get delayed due to the weather.”

“I don’t mind it much,” Kelsey Guthery, public relations major, said. “A lot of schools do outdoor graduations. If it’s nice out, I won’t mind one bit.”