Since Tuesday, when University officials announced that April’s spring commencement would be held at Eastern Michigan University’s Rynearson Stadium rather than Michigan Stadium, many students have demanded that the University find another location on campus rather than hold the event on Eastern Michigan’s campus in Ypsilanti.
Some of them, Eastern Michigan students say, have taken that sentiment too far, insulting their neighbors to the east.
Eastern Michigan freshman Maggie Manville said she understood University students’ disappointment but their insistence that Eastern Michigan’s campus was an unworthy location for commencement was an insult to Eastern Michigan and the city of Ypsilanti.
“I think they need to get over themselves,” Manville said. “I don’t think they should make it a bigger deal than it is, and they shouldn’t think of us as less than them.”
Barbara Glover, a University of Michigan alum and librarian at Eastern Michigan, said she thought University of Michigan students were overreacting.
“I think it’s much ado about nothing,” Glover said. “Students should be flexible.”
Because of ongoing construction, the Big House will be unavailable on April 26, the day of the ceremony.
Future graduation ceremonies will not be affected.
Other students at Eastern Michigan feel more sympathy for Michigan students and the prospect of receiving their diploma at another school.
Eastern Michigan sophomore Jessica Enright said it’s no surprise that University students are disappointed that there’s a chance they won’t be able to graduate on their own campus.
“I felt bad for Michigan students,” Enright said. “I’d expect our graduation to be on our campus, not theirs.”
Doug Dowdy, Eastern Michigan’s assistant athletic director, said the college’s athletics department would do everything it could to help the University hold a successful ceremony.
But Dowdy said he is not sure of what that might entail.
“The University of Michigan is our friend and our partner in many endeavors,” Dowdy said. “When they call with a request for help, we want to help them in any possible way we can. We want to help them make this facility the very best that it can be for this event.”
LSA senior Eric Victorson said he appreciates Eastern Michigan’s hospitality but thinks the University of Michigan should hold commencement at a facility on campus.
“We have nothing against Eastern Michigan University,” Victorson said. “We just feel like we should be able to graduate on our own campus.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, said the University planned to work with Eastern Michigan officials to “create a more ‘maize and blue’ feel” inside Rynearson Stadium for the ceremony.
Enright, who works as an assistant in the administration office at Eastern Michigan, said Eastern Michigan officials would do their best to facilitate graduates.
“It’s not the best stadium in the world,” Enright said. “But they’re going to do their best to make it great.”
Michigan students said they were skeptical about the plans.
LSA senior Eric Portenga said he doesn’t think the ceremony will carry as much significance as it would in the Big House.
“They can’t make their stadium exude pride like Michigan Stadium does,” Portenga said.