Despite MU student outcry, honors convocation won't return to Quad

Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 8:45 p.m. CST; updated 10:40 p.m. CST, Thursday, March 7, 2013

COLUMBIA — MU officials said Thursday they would keep the honors convocation ceremony in Mizzou Arena despite an outcry from students, who've called for its return to Francis Quadrangle.

It's a difficult decision to accept because it goes against recent tradition, Mizzou Alumni Association Director Todd McCubbin said. 

But the registrar's and Alumni Association's decision to permanently move the ceremony to Mizzou Arena was made because there is not enough room on Francis Quadrangle to accommodate students and their guests, he said. 

"It's not any individual person that's making these calls," he said. "There are recommendations that come with those discussions, and this was one of the bigger ones we've dealt with because we know it's a very classic site."

The decision was made in fall 2012, and an online petition started by MU senior Michelle Fiesta on Feb. 27 called for the ceremony to move back to the Quad. The petition had 312 signatures Thursday.

University Registrar Brenda Selman, who helped make the decision to move the ceremony, has not seen the petition and said the move to Mizzou Arena is final.  

McCubbin said everyone in attendance has a comfortable seat with a decent view of the ceremony at Mizzou Arena, something that's not guaranteed on the Quad.

"We want it to be a very positive experience for our graduates, and people are having to bring lawn chairs out or stand on benches over on the side in order to see their graduate walk across the stage," McCubbin said. "It just wasn't a comfortable environment."

Selman said numerous options were considered and discussed with input from facilities staff, but ultimately the chancellor’s staff determined it is not feasible to fit all ceremony attendants on the Quad because of recent increases in enrollment.

"It's a beautiful ceremony, and students look forward to it," she said. "We enjoyed having it on the Quad, so it wasn't easy to decide to move it inside, which is why we looked at a number of alternatives."

Last May, approximately 6,500 people attended the Honors Convocation Ceremony in Mizzou Arena, Selman said. Previous Honors Convocation Ceremonies have been moved to the arena because of inclement weather. 

"We've outgrown the Quad," she said. "That's the bottom line. The number of students graduating with honors, the number of mentors participating and the number of guests have increased the total participation."

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