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IUPUI commencement ceremony subject of uproar as some students won't be able to walk

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Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 04, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Students at IUPUI and their families are expressing their frustration over a change they say no one expected to the upcoming graduation ceremony.

The traditional graduation will take place for all of the students, but the smaller ceremonies where grads walk across the stage may be in jeopardy.

"It's a bookend to four years of hard work, thousands of dollars in money. It's incredibly important," Holly Ward, a senior at IUPUI, said. "I have been dreaming of the moment that my parents hear my name as I walk across the stage because they never got that chance."

Every year, IUPUI holds two commencement ceremonies: one for undergraduates and one for grad students. In those ceremonies, students don't walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

"We have been working so hard for four years. I want to be able to have that individual recognition for myself," Rebekah Johnson, another senior, said.

University officials said there are just too many students.

That will stay the same this year, but IUPUI officials said they couldn't reserve the space for each individual school, such as the School of Liberal Arts or School of Social Work.

"While it is unfortunate that the spaces the university rented on behalf of the schools in past years isn’t available this year, the schools are free to have a ceremony and individually recognize students. We certainly wouldn’t discourage such a recognition for these milestone achievements. How each school intends to do that will be up to that school," the university said in a statement.

The Kelly School of Business and the School of Education did have the money to find a space and will hold a ceremony, but because of the late change schools like the School of Liberal Arts don't have the budget to do so.

"I just feel like all the money we put in. Not just the time, but all of the money that us students have put in to get a degree that we are interested in. I just feel like it is all worth it if our name gets called," senior Jasmine Drake said. "I need my name called, just like the school of business. Just like the science school, engineering school, I need my name called too."

Students of the School of Liberal Arts have been told they will have a "recognition ceremony" and will have the chance to mingle among friends and faculty. They have also been told there will be a DJ and refreshments.

"It's not a graduation ceremony. There is no stage, we're not walking and they are not saying our names," Ward said. "To not get that moment of here is your moment of you are graduating here is your name. You are walking across that state, It is just heartbreaking and it's really sad to kind of see that the school is not giving that moment of recognition."

Students at the School of Social work have heard the same, but add they haven't received any confirmation from staff.

Officials at the School of Social Work said they plan to hold a graduation ceremony where students can cross the stage and have their names read.

"To be paying the same amount for tuition and be here the same amount of time and not get that recognition is pretty devastating to me," senior Hannah Waggoner said.

Ward has created a petition in hopes of a return to normal.

The overall commencement for the entire university is scheduled for Saturday, May 14.

More information on IUPUI's commencement ceremony is available online.