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Commencement tickets in high demand for large senior class

Photo by Zach Forstrom

Megan Thrasher, a graduating senior, made early plans for family to come to Concordia for the May 1 commencement ceremony. When it was announced that seniors would be given only five tickets each, she became worried.

“I was panicked,” Thrasher said. “I have 15 people coming to graduation—parents, brothers, two grandmas, and a lot of my family is alumni. We had booked hotels in advance. In December, we already knew everyone was coming.”

This year, Concordia’s largest freshman class to date is graduating, according to Bruce Vieweg, associate provost and interim dean of students. There are about 600 students planning to graduate, which is 100 more than last year, Vieweg said.

The ceremony takes place in Memorial Auditorium. This year, Senator Amy Klobuchar will be speaking to graduates, along with a student speaker who had yet to be determined as of Apr. 5, according to interim president Paul Dovre.

Memorial Auditorium has a maximum capacity of 4,500 people, and the large numbers of graduating students have raised some issues with students obtaining tickets for family members.

Sharon Lowther, campus information office manager, is in charge of commencement ticket distribution and commented on the change from six tickets per student last year to five tickets this year.

“About 80 percent are asking for additional tickets,” Lowther said. “It’s going to be hard to accommodate. This year I’m hopeful if they get one extra ticket, when in past years it has been two or three.”

Lowther determines how many tickets will be distributed after Easter break. She evenly divides those tickets that are left over between the people who requested more tickets. It’s not a first-come, first-served method for the initial extra distribution.

However, Lowther said there are usually some leftover tickets on the Friday before graduation. On that day, it is first-come, first-served until the tickets are gone.

Thrasher didn’t want to risk waiting for tickets until the last day, so she took action. She started a Facebook page asking friends to donate their extra tickets to her and she also contacted faculty members asking for the extra ticket they are given for a spouse who may not be attending.

“I’m fortunate enough to have gotten all mine,” Thrasher said. “For people who don’t know they can do that, or don’t know people with extra tickets, they’re kind of out of luck.”

Faculty and staff tickets are limited to 200 each year, and this year they have been claimed quickly; they are already gone, possibly because of student requests for tickets, Lowther said.

Lowther believed that most people would be able to find tickets for their family.

“If they’re resourceful, they figure it out,” Lowther said. “It works out in the end.”

Lowther also manages to keep 50 tickets on hand for the day of the commencement ceremony for emergency situations. She said that in some cases, people don’t realize they need tickets, or graduates studying abroad forget to request tickets for their family.

“Maybe they didn’t [pick up their tickets] by deadline,” Lowther said, “but we can’t deny them completely from having any family members at their graduation.”

For those who can’t get a seat inside the auditorium for the commencement ceremony, a live video is streamed to an overflow space in Olin, Vieweg said.

“It’s a wonderful weekend,” Vieweg said. “It’s always special to hear the choir and band performing for the last time and to see families together.”



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