Student governments respond to graduates' discontent over commencement plans

Saturday, April 1, 2017 - 7:29pm

Former New York City Mayor Micheal Bloomberg speaks at the University of Michigan's spring commencement at Michigan Stadium in April 2016.

Former New York City Mayor Micheal Bloomberg speaks at the University of Michigan's spring commencement at Michigan Stadium in April 2016. Buy this photo
Marina Ross/Daily

Central Student Government and LSA Student Government recently issued statements regarding the discontent many students felt with the decision to forgo a commencement speaker for the Spring Commencement ceremony and instead showcase a video of past speeches.

Many current seniors have been disappointed with the lack of a keynote speaker, and believe the University of Michigan is placing more emphasis on this year’s bicentennial celebration than on the class of 2017 at graduation.

The CSG statement highlighted the fact that many members of CSG were also displeased with the University’s decision, and that former President David Schafer and Vice President Micah Griggs, both LSA seniors, met with President Mark Schlissel in person to voice these concerns.

The brief outlines the need for administration to listen more closely to student voices and involve them more on decisions involving student life, encouraging students to email or call in their opinions.

“Going forward, we encourage our fellow students to not only approach this ceremony with an open mind, but also to express how they’re feeling to the administration,” the press release stated.

The LSA SG press release highlighted a similar approach, as it pledged members will “continue voicing these concerns to administrators and letting the university know that students do not support the current Spring Commencement Ceremony plans.”

The press release said LSA SG found the reasoning by the administration for the lack of a keynote speaker to be problematic, as the focus of the celebrations is shifted away from the graduating class.

According to the release, LSA SG asked students how they would feel about not having a keynote speaker on their fall 2016 ballot and received “overwhelmingly” negative feedback. These results were sent to the commencement ceremony organizers — officials told LSA SG the concerns were “taken into consideration.”

“Recently there has been a petition sent to the University signed by over 1,100 students voicing their disapproval at the lack of a keynote speaker,” it read. “These, not any of the other efforts to express student discontent, appear to have caused any impact on the planning of the Spring Commencement Ceremony. It appears that student voice was ignored in the planning of an event whose purpose is to celebrate students. Whether intended or not, the image of the University not listening to student feedback regarding decisions that directly impact students could set a precedent that may lead to negative consequences for the student body.”

LSA SG ended its release with a pledge.

“We will not rest until there is either a more concrete response than ‘one voice is not enough to fully celebrate this historic commencement ceremony’, a keynote speaker selected, or until the Spring Commencement Ceremony ends,” it read.