University seeks alternatives to graduation overcrowding

The Student Government Association is currently considering the prospect of adding a third graduation ceremony to commencement in order to deal with spectator overcrowding at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.

The proposition is still just a suggestion being deliberated by the SGA, and has not become an official SHSU proposal yet. However, the SGA is seeking student feedback on the proposition in order to suggest it to the SHSU administration.

SHSU Safety Coordinator Ellery Stevenson is in charge of safety precautions during the ceremonies, and said the university is requesting student feedback because of complaints that last time SHSU officials didn’t consult students when they sought to fix the overcrowding problem.

“The last time this discussion came up, there was a lot of talk that the students didn’t have any input in the process,” Stevenson said. “And (President James Gaertner) has asked us to get input, and that’s what the SGA is doing.”

Stevenson said that so far, the student responses have been mostly positive on the issue.

Overcrowding at Johnson Coliseum during graduation has become a big issue on campus, prompting the school to find alternative ways to deal with the problem. This semester will feature several hundred more graduating students then in previous semesters, which poses possible safety hazards with the large crowd of guests sure to come to the ceremonies.

SGA President Helena L. Banks said her organization is considering the third ceremony because it seems to be the easiest solution to the problem.

“We have a safety issue going on during our graduation ceremony,” Banks said. “What the Student Government Association is told is that the safest, easiest and most logical way to remedy this is to add another ceremony to our graduation.”

Banks said the various committees in the SGA are all conducting research and receiving student input in order to make a decision on the possible third ceremony.

“Student Government Association is going to be doing different things to gather the students’ opinion on the issue, and then make a recommendation on the issue to the administration,” Banks said.

Apart from the suggestion to add another ceremony, the SGA is currently looking into other solutions, such as changing the location venue of the event. Banks said that this suggestion is problematic, since Johnson Coliseum is already the largest indoor venue in the local area. Banks added that Bowers Stadium, while larger, is outdoors and the SGA does not currently have any contingency plans in case of bad weather or hot temperatures that may affect elderly guests.

Banks said the SGA is seeking helpful input from students on how the campus should deal with the overcrowding issue.

“Student government is always looking for informed opinions to come voice their thoughts on the issue,” said Banks.

Many students on campus agree with the third ceremony suggestion.

“I think it’s a good idea, because graduation is something you worked hard to achieve,” said senior Shentle Foster. “So I think having a third ceremony is good because you want your family and friends there to help in your success.”

Junior Kevin King also said another ceremony would help ease the overcrowding at the commencement ceremonies.

“If you don’t break it up into more groups, you limit the number of people who can come and watch their children graduate, and you’re also prolonging it,” said King. “If you break it up, each individual graduation will progress quicker.”

When the SGA has finished researching the different options, it will suggest the most popular to the SHSU administration, which will have final say on what option the university will take.

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