The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Changes to commencement ceremony and Graduates Day announced less than two weeks in advance

Commencement will be ticketed, with eight tickets allotted to each student and the option to request four more.
Zeppos+and+EBI+towers+peek+through+a+gap+between+buildings+in+the+foreground%2C+as+photographed+on+Feb.+6%2C+2024.+%28Hustler+Multimedia%2FIsabella+Bautista%29
Isabella Bautista
Zeppos and EBI towers peek through a gap between buildings in the foreground, as photographed on Feb. 6, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Isabella Bautista)

Vanderbilt announced several changes to the Graduates Day and commencement ceremonies in a May 1 email from Vanderbilt Commencement to graduating students. The email stated that the Commencement ceremony will be ticketed with each student allotted up to eight tickets. Students will be able to request a maximum of four additional tickets. 

Commencement will be held at GEODIS Park on May 10 following Graduates Day on May 9, which will occur in the Rec Indoor Practice Facility with a commencement celebration to follow. 

“Co-locating the events will allow attendees a seamless transition between the two events, reduced opportunity for weather interferences and improved security,” a university representative said in a message to The Hustler. 

The commencement celebration will begin with lunch after Graduates Day, followed by a live band, dessert and champagne. If weather delays persist until 11 a.m. CDT on May 10, the commencement ceremony will be canceled. 

A university representative explained that the decision to introduce ticket reservations to the commencement ceremony was made to ensure a more “respectful” event. According to the university, the changes to Commencement were sent to students as soon as possible following the decision.

“We are committed to hosting celebrations that are respectful, that honor the accomplishments of our graduates and are welcoming to graduates and their guests — many of whom will have traveled a long way to attend,” the representative said. “To support this commitment, the undergraduate commencement ceremony will now be a ticketed event.”

During Commencement, roads and parking lots around the Rec may be closed for shuttle parking and loading according to a travel press release but will remain open for individuals utilizing handicap parking. Guests in select hotels can take a shuttle directly to the event. Guests can also park in the Music City Center, Fort Negley, or Chestnut parking lots and then access a shuttle.

The ceremony will have a reserved seating area for wheelchair users. Wheelchairs can be brought by the guests or can be rented through Vanderbilt at no cost by filling out an accommodations request form. There will also be live captioning during the graduation events. 

“Those who have requested accommodations have been communicated with about details they need to know for both Graduates Day and Commencement,” a university representative said.

 Senior Christina Valentine expressed frustration with how this year’s graduation events have been altered from previous years.

“Vanderbilt has consistently let us down when it comes to graduation,” Valentine said. “Our class has seen so many changes already — the least they could do is follow through with the traditions promised to us during our online orientation.”

Senior Sydney Hawkins said the changes are reminiscent of her high school graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Back then my administration did everything that they could to give me a normal experience, but now it feels like I’ve been forgotten,” Hawkins said. “My time at Vanderbilt was never ‘normal’ from the start so I guess they don’t care enough to make it up to me now.”



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About the Contributors
Swarada Kulkarni
Swarada Kulkarni, Staff Writer
Swarada Kulkarni (‘27) is majoring in neuroscience in the College of Arts and Science. Outside of writing for The Hustler, she enjoys singing, reading books and exploring new restaurants with her friends. She can be reached at [email protected].
Isabella Bautista
Isabella Bautista, Life Copy Editor
Isabella Bautista (‘26) is double majoring in mathematics and psychology and minoring in biological sciences on the pre-medical track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from Easton, Pa. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found spending hours alone in a piano practice room, photographing Vanderbilt squirrels with her Canon camera or poring over research papers in the lab she works in. She can be reached at [email protected]  
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