- Associated Press - Sunday, October 15, 2017

PINEVILLE, La. (AP) - Students in their last semester of study at Louisiana College in Pineville will have to wait until May if they want to walk across the stage in cap and gown to receive their diploma.

The Town Talk reports senior administrators decided to end the tradition of holding fall commencement, which in the past has included all the pomp and circumstance as the same occasion in the spring.

According to a Sept. 7 letter emailed to students, discontinuing the fall commencement was a business decision and an opportunity for officials to be “good stewards of the College’s financial resources.”

Rachel Bordelon, a criminal justice major from Marksville scheduled to graduate this December, said she was surprised by the decision.

“At the beginning of the semester, I was going to get my books and stuff, and I thought while I was there (at the campus book store), why don’t I get the ball rolling on getting my cap, my gown, my frame to hold my diploma and stuff like that,” Bordelon said.

That’s when a worker “informed me that there’s no December graduation,” Bordelon said. “My first reaction was, ‘What?’ I was in disbelief.”

Kaylee Rushing, a double criminal justice and psychology major from south Louisiana, said she wouldn’t necessarily return to participate in graduation if she’s moved on with her life.

“It’s not feasible if I have a job, say I’m working with state police in New Orleans or the FBI in New Orleans like I plan on,” said Rushing, a sophomore whose class schedule puts her graduating at the end of a fall semester also.

Students can be put in the position of graduating a semester early or late for different reasons including what class load their personal lives or finances allow or because of scheduling conflicts.

The letter informing students of the change says the college’s research shows similar-sized institutions generally hold commencement in the spring only. It also points out that holidays can make it difficult for family members to travel and participate in fall commencement, which is held in mid-December.

Rushing said students and faculty should at least have been given an opportunity to voice concerns about the change or recommend phasing it in over several years.

“It’s disheartening,” she said.

The letter does not mention the size of fall commencement as being a factor in the decision, but the number of degrees awarded in May versus December does not usually vary greatly. This May, the school had 114 students participate in commencement exercises, which was less than in December 2016 when 140 students graduated.

Bordelon said her experience at Louisiana College has been positive so it’s disappointing to end her time at the school in this way.

“It’s mixed emotions,” she said.

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Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com


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