CofC Splits Commencement Ceremony

The Student Government Association wishes to inform all students, faculty, staff and members of the College of Charleston community of the changes for future Commencement Ceremonies here at the College. Below, is a letter from the President of the Senior Class of 2008, Mr. Tom Skwierawski and President of the Student Body, Miss Whitney Hinds.


Fellow Students,

We hope that you all received our e-mail last week, in regards to future commencement ceremonies. For those of you that did not, the administration has been exploring different options to alleviate the logistical problems posed by our current commencement ceremony. Last week we asked for student input, to gain your perspective on the matter.

We thank you for your speedy and thoughtful responses- we have received over 300 e-mails, and our Facebook group has grown to over 200 people. After examining your responses, which also included summer session surveys, we compiled a report for the administration with the results. There was a unanimous and resounding call to keep graduation in the Cistern, and to keep it as far away from North Charleston Coliseum as possible. Understandably, many of you were ambivalent towards the other two suggestions- splitting up the ceremony, or reducing tickets. In the end, however, the majority opinion was that if commencement would have to change, splitting the ceremony in two would be the best option. At a meeting this Monday with school officials, we learned that President Benson shares this same opinion. The spring class of 2008 will be the first class graduating with a split ceremony- half of the students in the morning, half in the afternoon. Because there will now be a morning ceremony as well, constraints caused by Sunday morning church services in the area has necessitated a switch to a Saturday commencement. So far, that is all that has been decided. Aside from the basics, much is still left open to discussion. As students, we understand that this may not be the most desirable solution to the problem. Indeed, there are many problems inherent in a split ceremony. Yet, when the school receives warnings from public officials that the current commencement is a safety hazard, school officials must respond in kind.

Please understand that President Benson is only acting in the best interests of the student, parents, and staff. We ask that you look at this as an opportunity to help forge a new tradition at the school. Although we strive to maintain the integrity of our historical

institution, history is something that is not only preserved, but created as well. In fact, the idea of a Mother’s Day ceremony, with all the historical importance some students attach to it, was something which began only 17 years ago. As students, and future alumni, we should look to create a ceremony that people 30 years from now will proudly call tradition. Over the next few months, we will keep you updated with progress on the situation.

If you have any comments, or would like to express your opinion in any manner, please email us at or join our Facebook group, “Where Do You Want Commencement to go?” You may also direct any concerns to the “Open Forum” section of the SGA website. We are giving you a wide range of response options, so you all can choose which one you feel is most convenient.

Also, the if you access the Senior class webpage, we will soon have a list of “Frequently Asked Questions” we have received about a split-ceremony commencement. Hopefully, this will help ease some of the confusion surrounding the ceremony.

As always, let us know if you need anything else,

Tom Skwierawski
2008 Sr. Class President

Whitney Hinds
2008 SGA President

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