In recognition of the university’s upcoming 250th anniversary, the College of Charleston announced today that it will launch a new graduation tradition beginning with the 2020 Spring Commencement.
In response to many years of complaints from graduates and parents concerning the small graduation venue in Cistern Yard, the College will move all spring commencement ceremonies to the spacious North Charleston Coliseum.
In an effort to maintain the feel of Cistern Yard and the longstanding custom of graduates walking across the Cistern to receive their diplomas, the College has contracted with the architectural firm of Maybank and Stern Associates to build a replica of the Cistern stage and Randolph Hall façade inside North Charleston Coliseum for the graduation ceremony.
“For years, we have received complaints about the limited number of tickets available to graduating students,” said Ted Burdette, vice president of executive programmatic enhancements at the College of Charleston. “With this new venue, we will be able to accommodate more requests for tickets, thus allowing more friends and family members to participate in this joyous celebration.”
Burdette added, “This new venue will also allow the graduation ceremonies to proceed without the threat of debilitating heat or torrential downpours. Everyone will be able to enjoy this beautiful new ceremony in a bug-free, climate-controlled environment. Best of all, sunglasses and sunscreen will no longer be necessary.”
Rebekah Hartley, whose son George is scheduled to graduate from CofC next year, said she is pleased with the venue change.
“I am thrilled to hear that the College is finally listening to the wishes of parents and grandparents,” said Hartley. “We’ve been stressing about this since George was a freshman.”
Along with the venue change, the College also announced today that the ceremony itself will have a different look beginning in 2020.
Every year, countless graduating seniors have complained about the time and money needed to find the perfect white dress or tuxedo to wear for the ceremony. With that in mind, the College will make things easier for future graduates by changing the required commencement attire of white dresses and tuxedos to traditional graduation caps and gowns, which are used by the vast majority of colleges and universities.
“I’m so glad we’re switching to caps and gowns,” said freshman Ericka Glover. “I know I would’ve spent hours trying to find a white dress, and now I have one less thing to worry about before graduation.”
Sophomore Ernie Beckett said he is also thrilled with the change.
“Ever since I was a little boy, I have dreamed of moving the tassel on my college graduation cap from one side to the other,” said Beckett.
The new cap and gown policy will also help bring a more academic feel to the ceremony. A recent study indicated that more than 87 percent of the public believes that people wearing caps and gowns look smarter.
“Wearing a mortarboard indicates that you are educated and ready to make a difference in the world,” says sociology professor Brendan Craven, author of the study published in the current issue of The Journal of Pedagogical Accoutrements.
CofC commencement ceremonies will continue to be held on Mother’s Day weekend.
If you’re still reading, Happy April Fools’ Day!
Senior Director of Media Relations Mike Robertson contributed to this report. Illustration by Timothy Banks.
Scout Petersen is a senior from Omaha, Nebraska, studying English, creative writing and business at the College of Charleston.