Students Upset with CUH Decision to End December Commencement

Katherine Greco, a Chaminade senior, expected to graduate in the fall commencement ceremony held in December but her plans, like many other students, have changed.

On Oct. 23, 2018, Dr. Helen Whippy, the provost here at Chaminade, sent out an email to all students to inform them of changes regarding Chaminade’s commencement ceremonies. The email explained that fall commencement 2018 would be the last fall commencement ceremony and, effective January 2019, “there will be one commencement ceremony each year and that ceremony will be held in May.”

This information warranted confusion and left students wanting a clearer understanding of why fall commencement was eliminated.

“I felt blindsided by the information,” said Greco, a New York native who expected to walk in a commencement ceremony in December 2019. “… [The spring commencement] isn’t my graduation. For the last year, my family has been saving up money to all come out here and visit and see me graduate. I can celebrate that it’s over [in May] but it’s not. I still have to come back and do my thing.”

Since 2011, spring commencement has yielded higher participation than fall commencement based on the fact that spring has a more overall amount of graduates. On average the percentage of spring commencement participation compared to fall is 56% since 2011.  Last spring, 333 students participated in the commencement ceremony. Fall commencement participation was at 109 Chaminade students.

This change to our ceremony has no impact on your degree,” Whippy wrote in that email in October. “Your degree will be conferred when you complete all of the requirements as listed in the university’s catalog.”

Hunter Liftee, a CUH senior studying Environmental and political studies, has another semester of school left but ultimately chose to walk in May.

“Even though I’m walking in May, I don’t think its a great idea for the school not to have a December commencement,” Liftee said. “I don’t feel like May is my graduation. I would feel like it more if it was in December for sure.”

As the University began to look toward this vision of ‘One Chaminade,’ we wanted the commencement celebration to include all of the graduates in a particular year,” Dean of Students, Allison Jerome, wrote in an email. “Ultimately, the final decision was made to move to one commencement ceremony in May and students were informed in that October email.

“Having worked at various universities, this is very common to have one commencement ceremony. The intention behind the decision was not to take anything away from anyone, rather it was to bring all graduates collectively together, along with the rest of the Chaminade community, to celebrate your accomplishments.”

Various schools around Oahu, all have fall commencement ceremonies. BYU-Hawaii has a fall commencement scheduled for Dec. 13. HPU has a fall commencement scheduled for Dec 12. Even UH-Manoa has a fall commencement scheduled for Dec. 21.

For Greco who expected to walk in December, time and planning has been a significant part of her college experience.

“I would of rather paid a trillion more for parking other than them taking away a graduation,” Greco said. “We pay so much to go here and graduation is the best part.”

Students dream, plan, and most work hard to get to that much anticipated day.

“I’m not against walking in May. It’s just … I didn’t do it yet,” Greco said. “I’m rewarding myself for not finishing yet. I haven’t met my goal.”

Students who are seniors and complete their degree requirements in the 2019 calendar year have the option to participate in the  May 2019 commencement ceremony, the May 2020 commencement or abstain from the ceremony altogether. This choice became available to all graduating students starting in January. You can now make the choice on your petition form.