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November 17, 2016

Students Voice Opposition to Convocation Changes


Courtesy of The University of Chicago

By Alex Ward   

 Student Government (SG) has finished collecting feedback on the upcoming changes to College Convocation, which University officials have confirmed will be implemented starting this year. 
 
In an e-mail sent on October 27, Dean of Students in the College John “Jay” Ellison announced that the 2017 College Convocation would occur as eight separate ceremonies, one for each residence hall. Students will receive their diplomas from their Resident Masters with members of their house. Previously, students across the College had received their diplomas from President Robert Zimmer in one large ceremony.  
 
The e-mail also announced the creation of a Class Day, which will take place on June 9, the day before Convocation. Class Day will include an address to the graduating class by a guest speaker, as well as a reception for seniors at the Museum of Science and Industry. 
 
The same day that the e-mail announcing the changes was sent, SG President Eric Holmberg and College Council Chair Peggy Xu posted an online form on Facebook to collect student feedback. In the post, Holmberg and Xu wrote, “Student input was not considered before, during, or after the development of changes to the College Convocation.” 
 
A petition asking Ellison, Zimmer, and Dean of the College John Boyer to return to the previous format had gathered over 1,100 signatures by the time of this article’s publication.  
 
Holmberg said in an e-mail that as of Tuesday, SG had received 57 responses, of which more than 30 were from members of the Class of 2017. According to Holmberg, “The overall theme was an anger and frustration with students being kept out of the decision-making process. Many students shared specific stories about Housing that they felt were overlooked in the decision to make Convocation focused on housing communities.” 
 
On Monday, Xu and Holmberg met with Ellison and Boyer to discuss the changes. In a College Council meeting on Tuesday, Xu said that the pair had confirmed that the changes would be implemented as proposed. Xu told representatives that the University hopes to begin collecting student input on specific parts of graduation, including Senior Week and Class Day, starting in January.  
 
In an e-mail, Holmberg said that he and Xu had worked out an agreement with Ellison and Boyer for SG members to be a part of the planning process. According to Holmberg, “There has not been a consistent relationship between SG and the College, so this is an encouraging takeaway.” 
 

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