By: Alyssa Foster
While it has not been officially published by the university, IU South Bend’s 2023 Commencement is currently scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 9, 2023, at 10 a.m. at the Joyce Center on the University of Notre Dame campus.
IU South Bend’s Commencement has routinely been held on Tuesdays for many years, but this is the first year of a 10 a.m. procession. The 2022 graduation ceremony began at 6 p.m.
The early start time on a Tuesday has caused an uproar of opinions to surface. However, it is not only IU South Bend facing the new time. All campuses will host their 2023 Undergraduate Graduation Commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. throughout the week of May 6 through 13.
IU Bloomington will hold their ceremony on May 6; IU Southeast on May 8; IU Kokomo on May 10; IU Northwest on May 11; IU East on May 12; and IUPUI on May 13.
In recent Student Government Association meetings, President Christian Martinez has solicited opinions about the decision and relayed the reasoning behind the decision as reported to him by IU administrators. All-IU President Pamela Whitten must attend each Commencement ceremony, so holding each ceremony on a different weekday would facilitate this; in addition, a standardized weekday time would make it easier to coordinate setup crews.
Also, in the past, IU has surveyed Commencement attendees about changes they would like to see, one of which was an on-campus reception after the ceremony. According to central IU, a 10 a.m. start time would allow time for such activities; however, since IU South Bend does not hold our Commencement on campus, this is not as significant of a benefit to us.
An overwhelming amount of opinions have been expressed as word has spread about the scheduled time for the ceremony. As can be assumed, many are not happy with the change. In an online poll by The Preface, 90 percent of respondents reported that they did not like the scheduled time.
Katie Craft, a senior at IU South Bend, said she does not agree with a 10 a.m. graduation.
“We should get the time moved to the evening,” Craft suggested.
With an early commencement, students have expressed concerns about their lack of ability to attend, as well as the difficulty their family and friends will face while deciding whether or not to join them. Students with jobs have brought attention to the inconvenience of taking time off work to attend the ceremony. While some employers may be lenient with some graduates, some may have less flexible schedules.
Graduates have also expressed concerns for their supporters, who might not be able to fill the audience on a Tuesday at 10 a.m. As a regional campus, many IU South Bend students are nontraditional and have returned to finish their education. Many have families and children who intend to support them during such an important celebration; however, taking days off work and pulling children from school is not an option that all families have.
“My parents will be working at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. I want my family to be able to attend,” Anna Roberts, IU South Bend student and online poll responder, said.
Travel and time zone changes are additional conflicts some are facing. With an early ceremony, some supporters will need to travel exceedingly early in the morning to arrive on time. Depending on their location, some may also need to plan for a time zone change or even pay for a hotel on Monday night.
The decision has sparked feedback from those graduating in December, too. The May 2023 Commencement ceremony recognizes December 2022, May 2023 and August 2023 graduates. In order to be honored on stage, graduates who complete their degree in December must return in May. With many graduates entering the workforce immediately after completing their degree requirements, some must prepare to miss work to return for the ceremony. Others still may move out of South Bend after graduation, meaning the same travel concerns would apply to them – especially considering that graduates would need to arrive multiple hours before 10 a.m.
If you would like to express your opinion about this year’s Commencement time, you may scan this QR code to access a survey created by the Student Government Association.