Last week, there was excitement in the air as University students planned an important protest. For many, this protest would show the administration that the decision to hold commencement outside of Michigan Stadium was unacceptable. Despite good intentions, the rally fell flat on its face, postponed at the last minute due to a lack of interest. This isn’t a good sign for students, who must continue their outrage about moving graduation to Eastern Michigan University if they hope to bring commencement back to the Big House, make this decision transparent and hold the administration accountable for its disregard of students’ interests.

Organized by Juhi Aggarwal, who created a blog dedicated to the graduation issue, the protest was set to take place Thursday before the meeting of the University Board of Regents. The intention was to overwhelm the regents as they entered the Fleming Administration Building for their monthly meeting, using the leverage garnered by mass participation to get a better location for commencement along with transparency, explanations and a timeline for action.

Unfortunately, according to Aggarwal’s blog, the response students received from the University at last week’s two forums was that a decision would be made within three weeks. An e-mail sent out to the class of 2008 yesterday explained that the University was working on “an aggressive timeline” that would require students to respond to a survey by Thursday at 9 a.m. It did not say when the University would make a decision.

After the administration forgot about graduation, neglected to solicit student input and delayed announcing its mishap until after winter break, students deserve a decision sooner than three weeks from now. Since commencement was moved to EMU, the University has protested that the venue was chosen after careful consideration of multiple locations. If this were true, it wouldn’t need three more weeks to reconsider the same locations. It has already had ample time. If anything, the fact that it needs additional time to calculate a response proves that the University didn’t thoroughly weigh all of its options to begin with.

Similarly, the final decision about where to hold graduation needs transparency and meaningful consideration of student input, two things this administration has repeatedly failed to do. The two forums last week, the upcoming survey and the newly formed Spring Commencement Advisory Committee are three sources of legitimate student input. However, in yesterday’s e-mail to seniors, the University simply announced that this committee was formed and had already met Monday morning, with just three students but 10 University officials. Even when it seems to be trying to cover up its mess, the University administration can’t get the idea of transparency right.

Students deserve an explanation of how their input is being considered. If they don’t get satisfactory answers, they should demand them. It’s easy for the administration to get away with poor planning and a lack of transparency if students stay quiet. While the administration’s decision to hold graduation at EMU initially generated an impassioned response, the issue is already losing momentum. The longer a decision is stalled, the farther it will be from students’ minds and the less options will be available.

According to her blog, Aggarwal postponed the rally because she didn’t get a strong enough response from students. While it is understandable that she wants to draw a noticeable crowd, waiting is the wrong approach. If this protest couldn’t garner sufficient support now by the organizer’s standards, then it is even less likely that it will gain support as the issue grows stale.

Students can’t simply wait to react to the University’s new idea; they should be proactive and influence it. Students should make sure to return the University-distributed survey by Thursday at 9 a.m. They must also emphasize to the University that they want an explanation and a solution immediately.

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