University allots seniors eight tickets for May commencement

Baker University made an announcement on Feb. 12 that this year’s commencement ceremony will follow strict fire code regulations. In order to comply with these safety precautions, all May 2019 graduates are allowed only eight tickets each to distribute to family and friends who wish to attend the ceremony.

If graduates wish to have more guests attend, there will be overflow space with live video in Rice Auditorium. In previous years there has been no ticketing system and no limit on the number of attendees. Naturally, as there is with any change, there have been questions from many students.

After a better estimate provided by a third party ticketing company and the overall student reaction, administration increased the number of tickets per graduate from six to eight and created a ticket lottery for students to get more tickets if needed.

In a Student Senate meeting on Feb. 18, Senior Class Representative Olivia Brees brought the change to the attention of the rest of the Senate and adviser Josh Doak. Students had different opinions, but the leading opinion was the University should not put a limit on the number of tickets a graduate is allowed.

Senior Joe Houlihan said he thinks graduates should be able to invite as many people as they want, “especially considering the amount of money and time we put into Baker.” Houlihan also feels that the University should be supporting students when they want their whole family to be there to experience this large milestone in a person’s life.

Multiple ideas to solve the problem were brought to the group’s attention. Ideas included:

  • An outdoor ceremony at Liston Stadium
  • Moving to another venue in the area
  • Creating a ticket lottery, one that has now been implemented

Junior Chloe Rodenbeek, also a member of Student Senate said, “We need to think about international students and students from out of state.”

Rodenbeek said that some international and out-of-state students will have their family visit for the first time at commencement and she does not think it is right to limit the number of family members they can invite. Being from a large family herself, the original six ticket limit would not have allowed all of her immediate family members to attend.

Vice President for Academic Affairs Marcus Childress sent out an email March 4 addressing questions through a frequently asked questions document and providing information regarding how students will receive tickets. Childress said he is excited and willing to accept any ideas or questions students have regarding the issue.

“Everybody has a voice on campus…I think that is what makes universities special places,” Childress said.

Childress said that the email had information that would have been sent out sooner, however, there has been turnover on the University’s executive level.

“We moved as fast as we could in trying to find a solution and trying to find a vendor,” Childress said. He acknowledges that the beginning of the semester would have been better timing when announcing the change.

Students’ participation in the ticket lottery is important to ensure that graduates who have over eight people attending will be able to acquire tickets. There will be a one-week period, to be determined after spring break, where students can claim their tickets online. Each student will be guaranteed eight tickets if they request all eight during that period. If the student does not need all eight tickets, they can request as many as they need and the rest will be placed into the ticket lottery.

Students can apply for the ticket lottery when requesting their other tickets. The lottery will take place two days after the ticket request window closes. All students will be guaranteed four tickets even if they do not go online to retrieve their tickets during the week-long window. That means that the other four tickets will automatically be entered into the ticket lottery.

“We will have to go back and assess this. We are not wed to any particular solution,” Childress said regarding the next commencement. Administration is hopeful everyone who wants to attend will be able.

Those with suggestions or comments should email [email protected].