It’s the last day. Finals are finished. All the boxes are checked off on the graduation checklist. All that’s left is to wait around five months to walk across the stage at commencement.
For students finishing their degree in the summer semester, this is a possibility. It’s either wait around five months or walk early, which many students do, but with that decision students must accept that they have chosen to give up honors recognition at graduation. Neither option seems a fair payout for the four or more years spent paying tuition and fees, studying for classes and putting social life on the back-burner.
Not many people want to work in their profession, with a Bachelor’s degree, for almost half a year and then ask off from work to participate in a commencement ceremony, and that shouldn’t need to happen.
VSU has held summer commencement before, as recent as August 2015. Those summer graduates are not more important than the students graduating this summer or in the following summers.
Walking early is an option the student body appreciates, as seen in 2014 when there was not a summer commencement ceremony and former VSU President Dr. William McKinney denied students the chance to walk early but then retracted that decision considering how much it affected students. However, walking early is still far from the best option.
At graduation, students can be recognized for Cum Laude honors (overall 3.50 grade point average), Magna Cum Laude honors (overall 3.70 grade point average) or Summa Cum Laude honors (overall 3.90 grade point average). Students who walk early will not be recognized for honors during commencement. According to the Application for Degree form on VSU’s website, honors recognition at graduation is based on grades from students’ transcripts immediately preceding graduation, and so the last semester’s grades are not reflected in the graduation program; that being the case, students who walk early in spring, planning to graduate in the summer, should be recognized for honors the same way that students who are not walking early are recognized.
As a staff with members who take their final courses this upcoming summer, and as a staff that wants the students to have a fulfilling commencement experience, we urge VSU to consider bringing back summer commencement or reworking the early walk honors stipulations. We know that commencement costs money and that reworking walk early terms is time consuming, but we, the students as a whole, have spent ample money and time as well, and we want commencement to celebrate our accomplishments.