USU considering cancellation of December graduation ceremonies

Utah State University may be canceling its December graduation ceremonies, according to reports from several students. A university spokesman says a decision on what to do with the graduation has been made, and an announcement will be made Thursday. Although the official word on the December 12 ceremony will wait until Thursday, several students who planned on graduating in the December 12 ceremony contacted local media outlets Wednesday expressing disgust that their ceremony was rumored to be canceled. “You cannot do this to the students,” said Kelsey Koenen, a senior studying journalism and communications who planned to graduate this December. “I want my freaking diploma.” Koenen said the rumors of USU canceling the ceremony changes her “entire mentality toward how the university treats their students.” She said she’d heard an announcement planned by USU for Friday had been moved up to Thursday, but added she’s hoping publicity about the change can force USU to change their mind. The cancellation would come at a time when USU’s budgets are severely crunched. In the past year the university has laid off many employees, implemented mandatory furloughs and offered an extensive early retirement program. All those cuts were on top of extensive interdepartmental cuts that every office on campus was asked to make. University spokesman John DeVilbiss said he didn’t have an exact dollar figure for how much cutting the December commencement ceremony would save, but said it would be a significant amount of money. Included in the cost of graduation are printing costs, video production, IT personnel, sound engineers, public safety and building preparation. “It costs a lot of money, I can say that,” DeVilbiss said. Another student who was studying public relations and planned to graduate in December said she’s extremely angry about the rumors. She asked not to be identified until an official announcement is made, but said she’d spoken with employees in USU’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Science who said they had a meeting on Tuesday and were told that the graduation ceremonies would be canceled. “It is ethically wrong, it is very wrong to cancel right before the semester is about to start,” the student said. “Where are you getting your money? You’re getting it from your students. Without us, you wouldn’t be getting any money so why would you take away the one thing that we’re here for?” The student said she had coordinated her graduation plans around her husband being deployed in the military. Koenen had other concerns, saying she had a full-time job doing marketing with the Riverwood Conference Center ready to start in January. DeVilbiss said the ultimate decision on whether to cancel December commencement would be made by USU President Stan Albrecht. DeVilbiss said he didn’t believe that student reaction to the prospect of commencement being canceled would play into a final decision. “A decision has most likely been made and it’s going to be announced (Thursday),” DeVilbiss said.

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