April 2, 2020

Plans for December graduation ‘disappoint’ students

PHOTO BY GABE BURNS Freshman Alex Bonney presented on the issue of December graduation during spring Delegates’ Agenda. Bonney said the administration lacked the enthusiasm he and his partners put into the issue.

by Macy Salama 

During the administration response to Delegates’ Agenda on Tuesday, April 30, in Sunnen Lounge, SGA President Michael Grosch said he was disappointed by the way the administration initially responded to the issue of December graduation.

At the March 21 Delegates’ Agenda it was brought to the administration that Webster University should offer a December commencement ceremony for students who will graduate in December.

“I didn’t like the way (December graduation) was presented. … It seemed like (the administration) didn’t try to fix the student concerns,” Grosch said.

Having a December graduation was the second most supported topic at the Officer Summit meeting. Grosch expected the administration to take more action on a topic students felt strongly about.

Associate Provost Nancy Hellerud presented on December graduation at the Delegates’ Agenda response. She said administration would try to make the next December Toast “bigger and better” for graduating students who attend.

“We got a lot of good feedback from students and their families,” Hellerud said.

Last December, President Elizabeth Stroble and Provost Julian Schuster began a ‘December Toast’ to honor students who graduated in the winter.Only 10 percent of graduating students attended the December Toast.

Alex Bonney presented on the issue at the spring Delegates’ Agenda.

“My heart and soul and elbow grease went into trying to do something and make a difference. … After all the effort I put in, it was almost a slap in the face,” Bonney said.

Bonney said students who graduate in December aren’t getting the same recognition as ones who graduate in May. He said not all international students who graduate in December can afford airfare for the May ceremony.

“I saw an international student get moved to tears when I presented and I am disappointed to see the lack of enthusiasm,” Bonney said during the administrations’ response.

SGA Comptroller Taylor Snead responded to Bonney’s comment.

“Maybe it’s not exactly what we want, but it’s collaboration,” Snead said.

Snead thought the administration did a good job with the other issues presented. She said she was impressed with the way the administration responded.

Schuster presented a plan to the students following their questions and concerns. Schuster said the administration would keep a December graduation in mind for the future. He said for now the administration needs to pay attention to attendance rates for the December Toast in the coming years.

“When we put things into perspective. … We can’t be stuck in the present,” Schuster said.

Schuster said he does not want to have a December ceremony until he knows it will be equivalent to the May ceremony. He thinks the December Toast needs to grow in attendance before it will be successful.

“After (Schuster) presented I felt more at ease,” Grosch said.

President Stroble said the December Toast is the first step to getting a December ceremony.

“I’ve wanted a December graduation since I started here,” Stroble said. “We’ve worked four years to get the December Toast… I would suspect at some point we will get there.”

Improving Communication

Stroble announced at the Delegates’ Agenda response that administration and SGA officers would meet periodically throughout the year.

“We need another channel of on-going communication besides (Delegates’ Agenda),” Stroble said during the response.

Stroble said she wants to improve communication between SGA and administration so they can exchange ideas throughout the year. The meetings will not replace Delegates’ Agenda but will be an additional source of communication, Stroble said.

“We are going to start meeting over the summer. … Hopefully we can get it where we meet once a month,” Grosch said.

Grosch thinks communicating with the Webster administration more often will benefit students.

Stroble said if a student has a concern of his or her own, she has open office hours every month. She said she encourages students to come to her with concerns.

“Even if I am not the right person for you to come to, I can get you in contact with somebody who is,” Stroble said.

– Reporting by Gabe Burns

Response to other Delegates’ Agenda issues

Procuring a Webster smartphone application

— The application is in progress. The administration plans on making the application global for all campuses.

Safety/lighting

— The administration reminded students of programs and safety precautions they already have access to.

— Future implementations include swipe access to enter newly renovated buildings.

Increase and improve environment around campus

— New artwork will be distributed around campus.

— Improving the appearance and smell of the pond behind the parking garage by purchasing a solar bubbler, which will better oxodize the pond.

Books to student account

— Students that apply for Financial Aid can go through the process of getting books charged to Webster University account.

— Starting next school year, students will have access to a debit card that will appear on the back of their student ID.

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