The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Students win fight to bring diplomas back

Senior Astrud Villareal was “a bit worried.”

Worried about the possibility that she would not be getting her official diploma during graduation, that is.

For the biology major, diplomas are an integral part of the graduation ceremony.

“[It] literally becomes the culmination of four years of hard work, frustrations, victories and memories of a part of your life that’s about to end,” she said.

Villareal doesn’t have to worry anymore – diplomas will be present during graduation, according to university spokesman Kent Best.

But during the 2008-09 school year, seniors found out that they wouldn’t be receiving their actual diplomas during May graduation ceremonies. Instead, they would be mailed to students over the summer.

The provost’s office cited insufficient time to clear students for graduation between the end of final exams and the graduation ceremony as the reason why they decided diplomas were not to be included in the ceremonies.

The university shortened the time period as part of a recommendation from the Drug and Alcohol Task Force, which sought to decrease the amount of downtime students had after classes ended.

“The calendar committee has a difficult job. To determine when the school year ends and commencement falls depends on many things, where spring break falls and when classes begin,” Associate Provost Thomas Tunks told The Daily Campus last December. “Part of it was the task force recommending shortening the lag time; having a lot of students here with nothing to do increases the chances of problems occurring.”

Student senators opposed the provost’s office decision to remove diplomas from graduation, and then-Student Body Vice President Patrick Kobler drafted a resolution aimed at reinstating them for Dedman College’s ceremony. That resolution passed unanimously.

“The next step is persistence,” Kobler said after his resolution passed. “We, as students, must be persistent in our endeavor to ensure that all of the measures passed by various facets of the university community were not in vain.”

The Registrar’s office also supported handing out diplomas and was prepared to do so, according to John A. Hall, the executive director of enrollment services and university registrar, in an e-mail sent to several Daily Campus staff members.

“The May 2009 diplomas were in my office ready for distribution the week before commencement,” he wrote. “Furthermore, we felt that with only a few exceptions, the grades of graduating students would be submitted by professors in a timely manner to allow the traditional clearance and distribution to occur. We were disappointed when the decision was made to not hand out the diplomas.”

Kobler also expressed his satisfaction in how students got involved and how the university took students’ opinions into consideration.

“This is a demonstration of how the student voice really matters,” he said.

Kobler announced the return of diplomas during Tuesday’s Student Senate meeting.

Villareal is glad she’ll be getting her diploma in May, and said she would feel different if they had not been reinstated.

“I would still be happy at the ceremony, but I think I would feel incomplete,” she said. “There’s something about the tangibility of the diploma that makes the occasion more memorable and meaningful.”

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