SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - For the first time in several years, Seton Hall University's Baccalaureate Commencement Ceremony will not take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, but will take place instead on the Seton Hall University campus in three separate installments on May 15.
This decision was not made by choice, but was the result of the Prudential Center not being available this year, according to the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President at Seton Hall.
In the population of graduating seniors, there have been mixed reactions to the news of the changed location.
“I was outraged when I first heard it was going to be on campus instead of at the Prudential Center,” Katelyn Fatzler, a senior journalism major, commented. “The worst part was I've attended the last two graduations, so I've seen what our class should be getting. After watching my friends graduate in 2015 and 2016, it just makes me feel cheated.”
Another student also stated concern that all of the graduating students would be split up into three groups, based on major, instead of all graduating together in a single group. The student also added that the venue change means a limited number of tickets available to each student.
“The campus is too small and I heard they're splitting up the schools to do different ceremonies,” Macarena Solis, class of 2017, said. “This is also upsetting because that means there will be less people in each of those ceremonies. I feel like it won't be as monumental as I pictured my graduation from Seton Hall to be, but I'm still excited I'm graduating and I'm going to try to get the best out of that moment regardless of the location.”
Other graduating seniors found that the change in location wasn’t a big issue for them. “I think I’m in the minority of those graduating this year when I say I’m actually excited to graduate on campus,” Jenna Pearsall said. “The on-campus venue allows for a more intimate setting and smaller ceremony. Even though there may be a limited number of tickets for each student, I still like the idea of graduating on campus as opposed to the Prudential Center.”
The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President also commented on Seton Hall’s website about the venue change. “This year the academic journey of our graduates will come full circle and end here on campus where it began,” the official statement read. “It is the University's hope that smaller, more intimate ceremonies will be exceptionally meaningful on campus to the graduating seniors.”
In addition to the change in location, the 2017 commencement will not be featuring a speaker. This was also the case for the 2016 commencement, which only featured addresses from the valedictorian and salutatorian of the graduating class.
“I am pretty bummed about it,” one senior, Margarita Williamson, commented. “I enjoy watching YouTube videos of commencement speeches and I have always looked forward to the idea of there being a speaker at my graduation.”
“At first, I felt a little disappointed,” Pearsall said. “It seemed as though we were missing out on something that other graduates all across the nation get to enjoy. But then I thought about how this day is for us, the graduates, not about a speaker. While it’s nice to hear about the hardships and accomplishments of these distinguished guests, it should be a day about celebrating the accomplishments we’ve all achieved over the past four years.”
Members of the Seton Hall administration have been contacted and have not responded with comments.