Format of commencement ceremony disengages graduates

For so long, the tradition of graduation has included students walking across a stage after hearing his or her name called or simply marching together with the graduating class. However, Baruch College has followed a different format for past commencement ceremonies. For that reason, some Baruch students are debating whether to attend the ceremony.

At Baruch’s commencement ceremony, students do not get the opportunity to walk. The ceremony, as conducted in the past, consists of a speech from Baruch President Mitchel B. Wallerstein, followed by the commencement speaker, then the switching of the tassel from right to left.

Last year’s commencement ceremony lasted only an hour and a half, which is relatively short when considering the fact that students pay $50 for their cap and gown only to wear it for a short period of time. After four years—sometimes even longer depending on the student—of pursuing a bachelor’s degree, students deserve not only to walk, but have his or her name individually announced.

Baruch has a large student population, but other large colleges in New York have found ways to give their students the recognition they deserve without holding a traditional commencement ceremony. At Columbia University, for example, each school celebrates its graduates with its own ceremony.

In a similar vein, because over 9,000 students are expected to attend the commencement ceremony at New York University, it is not possible to recognize each individual by name. However, NYU does give each of its schools and programs the option of hosting individual graduations or receptions. Those smaller, more intimate ceremonies can be held at various venues on campus and around New York City.

Sometimes commencement ceremonies are more for the family of a graduate than the actual graduate. Not seeing the graduate walk or get recognized can be disappointing, especially if family members traveled to be at the ceremony. With such a large population of graduating seniors at Baruch, each school—the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, the Weissman School of Arts and Science and the Zicklin School of Business—should have their own ceremonies to celebrate each respective school’s graduates.

John Jay College hosts two commencement ceremonies—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Students attend the ceremony that includes their major. Baruch should follow a similar route so that there is more concentration on individual student recognition.