Commencement: Break out of Bren, Bring on the Bunnies
Thousands of students will take the long, ceremonious graduation walk in the Donald Bren Events Center this year, like the previous. In 2007, the university made the leap from having the ceremony in the maze that is the 21-acre Aldrich Park, which is adorned with more than 11,000 trees and shrubs, to the dark, stale confines of Bren Events.
The limited number of friends and relatives who can “zot” on their respective graduates now enjoys the post-modern décor of blank walls and high-rising grey cement. Those first-time visitors from all over the world have the rare opportunity to take in the university’s sporting atmosphere.
Go ahead and look around. Take in the stale scent of perspiration and school spirit at our championless gynasium. Let’s all be reminded on our last day in this fine university that our basketball team choked in the Big West finals to Cal State Fullerton. At least Peter the Anteater got kicked out of that game for attacking the Titans’ mascot.
With a rapidly increasing student body, the university has shown a lack of organization across the board. It is forcing first-year undergraduates to cram by the fours into dorm rooms meant for two, parking is a nightmare for anyone arriving after 8 a.m. and now it seems to have spread to the most important day for any graduating college student.
Each school gives students a specific number of tickets to pick and choose between Grandpa Willy and Aunt Jane. While it’s understandable that a graduation cannot possibly accommodate an infinite number of guests, it’s still unfair to people, especially students, who aren’t allowed to send their friends off.
UC Irvine should take into account that the ceremony takes place in a sporting venue and make a “student section.” Like a drop-in visit to a counselor, this would allow any interested students to come watch their friends grab with the left and shake with the right without the worry of being without a ticket. And like a basketball game, the students could create a rippling wave of chants and zot calls. Maybe this would make the hours-long ceremony feel a little less wearying.
This would also instill a sense, though transient, of the school spirit and comradery that this school is definitely lacking. Instead, students will continue to feel confined, as if they were stuck in a 5 p.m. lecture on a Friday afternoon and wanted to leave immediately. At least the students’ story will have some sort of narrative arc.
But UCI seems to enjoy its inclination for destroying good things and university traditions like graduation in Aldrich Park, The Pub and Cornerstone Café), replacing them with the commercially mundane. Except for the rare few that actually sit down to enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather in the spring and summer, it wouldn’t be that bad to use the park for graduation.
At least it has more of a focus than Wayzgoose. And, if you’re lucky, you can spot a bunny.
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