Spring Commencement will move back to the Big House after the University was forced to relocate last spring’s ceremony to the Diag, University officials said yesterday.

Last spring’s ceremony was held on the Diag in a compromise with students after University officials decided the ongoing $226-million renovation project would prevent it from being held at Michigan Stadium.

After that decision, the University had initially planned to hold the event at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium.

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said the University always planned to return commencement to the Big House, adding that the ceremony was only moved because the stadium was an open construction site without restrooms.

“It was always our intention to go back to the stadium,” she said. “The ceremony in the Diag was a one-time event.”

Although Michigan Stadium is still under construction and not slated for completion until fall 2010, Cunningham said the University doesn’t expect the current construction to significantly impede on this year’s ceremonies.

If held at the stadium, the graduation ceremony would likely be cheaper than last year’s. When held in Michigan Stadium, the event typically costs the University between $300,000 to $400,000. But last year’s Diag commencement cost $1.8 million.

Most students said they were pleased with the news that commencement would return to Michigan Stadium.

School of Social Work senior Megan Brooks said she was glad that commencement would be in the Big House because of the stadium’s long history and tradition. Engineering sophomore John Bogusz agreed.

“I thought it was kind of lame that they pulled it out from under the seniors last minute,” he said. “Definitely, the Big House would be better.”

Others students, like Jennifer Williams, a graduate student in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning who will graduate this spring, said they would prefer that the ceremony be held in the Diag.

“I think having it on the Diag is a more holistic idea of what the University represents than the football stadium,” she said. “The football stadium is great — it’s a big thing with the student body — but that’s more sports-related, and I think that Michigan represents more than just sports.”

Last spring’s location frustration

Last January, when University administrators announced the ceremony would be moved from Michigan Stadium to Eastern Michigan University due to construction, thousands of students and University alums signed petitions to move the event back to campus.

University officials were flooded with e-mails, many demanding that commencement be moved back to the Big House.

The University polled about 3,000 graduating students about the commencement location, giving them a choice between the Diag and Elbel Field. Sixty-six percent voted for the Diag.

The event cost the University $1.8 million, or about $1.5 million more than the average cost of holding commencement in Michigan Stadium. The ceremony took two weeks to set up.

Due to space constraints, each graduate was only given six tickets compared to the eight tickets usually available in the Big House.

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