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

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Senators vote to keep diplomas at graduation

Senators unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday afternoon encouraging the University to hand out diplomas at the Dedman College May graduation ceremony, and to keep Latin honors based on eight semesters.

The bill, written by Student Body Vice President Patrick Kobler, was passed after the Dedman Faculty passed a similar motion at a Dec. 5 meeting.

“I am beyond thrilled with Student Senate’s decision to unanimously pass my piece of legislation concerning bringing diplomas back to graduation ceremonies,” Kobler, who was unable to attend the meeting because he is on medical leave, said in an e-mail interview, “I believe it sends a strong message that receiving official diplomas at graduation and having Latin Honors being determined by all of a student’s academic semesters are two things that students deeply care about and two elements of an SMU education that every Mustang deserves to witness at graduation.”

Chief of Staff Jeff Ordner, a graduating education and political science major, also expressed his excitement about the bill’s passing.

“I hope the administration listens to our pleas,” he said.

Diplomas were removed from May graduation ceremonies based on a decision by the Provost’s Office when a change in the academic calendar shortened the time available for the Registrar’s Office to clear students for graduation. Under the current decision, graduating seniors will receive their diplomas in the mail.

“We really felt this was the appropriate way to go,” Ludden said.

Paul W. Ludden, provost and vice president for academic affairs, met with Senate to discuss why diplomas were taken out of graduation ceremonies and to answer senators’ questions before the official vote.

Ludden said during the meeting that the week between the end of finals and graduation was shortened in order to decrease the amount of time where students would have nothing to do.

This time, Ludden noted, leads to increased partying – which he verified by looking at the instances of drinking citations in the past – and that it is in accordance with the Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention’s recommendations.

Ludden outlined the Provost’s Office’s rationale for removing diplomas, saying the shortened week did not leave enough time for the diplomas to be readied. In addition, Ludden said the deans of each school are not willing to ask their staffs to work an excessive amount of overtime to get the diplomas ready

Many senators questioned Ludden about the decision. Cox Sen. Ryan Meyer said he didn’t see the necessity of shortening the week. Ordner wondered whether extra workers could be brought in to help clear students.

The Provost’s Office looked into hiring temporary workers, according to Ludden, but ultimately concluded that it wouldn’t help.

Ludden stressed that the graduation ceremony is not lessoned in value because it does not include a piece of paper, although he recognized that having diplomas in the ceremony is emotionally important.

On the issue of Latin honors, Ludden said his office was working on trying to determine if they should be based on seven or eight semesters, but that they had not come up with any final decisions.

Sen. Jonathan Lane expressed dissatisfaction with the Provost’s Office’s attempt to get student input. Ludden said he specifically sought out senators’ opinions at a Student Senate reception, and that he had received e-mails from faculty, which stated that diplomas were not an issue to students.

During the final debate, both Kobler (via statement read aloud by Ordner) and Lane called for a unanimous vote in support of the resolution.

In an e-mail interview, Kobler stated he was “thrilled” by Tuesday’s outcome, but he warned that the process was not over.

“The next step is persistence,” he said. “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.”

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