By Danielle Marsh & Haley M. Walker | firstname.lastname@example.org
Flagler College senior Julie Harvey, said she is disappointed she cannot share the moment that she will walk across the stage to receive her college degree with her entire family.
“I mean wouldn’t you want all the people who have loved and supported you through your career as a student to see you succeed?” Harvey said.
She said she is disappointed and upset about the lack of graduation tickets given out for this upcoming spring graduation, which is including around 400 graduates.
Harvey said that she feels there must be a better solution to this problem. She said she would like to see the graduation be held at a different location so that everyone can enjoy the celebration together.
“It’s silly attempting to fit everyone into a small venue, particularly when this graduating class is one of the larger classes to pass through Flagler,” Harvey said. “The most obvious solution would be to hold the ceremony somewhere else that would be more conducive, and definitely more comfortable, for the amount of people that are anticipated.”
Harvey suggests the new St. Augustine Amphitheatre could be a possibility.
In response to this common suggestion, Dean of Student Services Dan Stewart said the college has considered different locations on and off campus to have graduation.
But Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Yvan Kelly said the Amphitheatre “has its own peculiar problems.”
These problems range from lack of parking to the outdoor element the amphitheatre presents. If the graduation were to be held at night, mosquitoes would be a drawback. However, Stewart said it has stayed on campus due to tradition.
“It is overwhelmingly from the faculty that they would like to keep it on campus,” Stewart said. “That’s a tradition so you try to stay with it.”
Although this tradition may be well instilled on the campus, many students are not happy about the decision to continue to have graduation in the gym, and feel that there must be a better alternative.
One of the only other options was to hold graduation at the Jacksonville Veterans Arena. If held there, graduates could invite a significantly larger number of people.
The faculty senate was asked by administration what they thought of moving the ceremony to another location. They were “vastly in favor of remaining on campus.”
“We didn’t think that it was the right sort of capstone event for a Flagler College grad to go to …this sterile arena that they had nothing to do with and go through a ceremony there,” said Kelly.
There are certain traditions such as the walk from the school to the gym and the reception in the dinning hall afterwards that graduates look forward to.
However Flagler College senior Jennifer Gardner said, “Having all of your family there is more important than sentimental ties.”
“There is no other place in St. Johns County unless we wanted to have it at St. Augustine High School’s football stadium,” said Kelly.
According to Stewart, multiple graduations may be presented as a solution to this overcrowding problem. Stewart said Flagler is continuing to do what they can about this issue.
“I think the college is doing everything we can at this point to keep it on campus and to keep giving out as many tickets as we can,” said Stewart. “This just happened to be a very large class four years ago, which obviously affects four years later.”
Stewart says the administration tries to keep the number of graduation tickets the same each year.
“We try to stay consistent with it, and so it doesn’t change from year to year, but it does depend on the size of the class,” said Stewart. “Obviously they take up more seats on the floor, which means less seats that are available to parents, friends and family.”