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Sapere aude - dare to be wise
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Posted 12:15 PM by Brian D.
With Respect About Commencement

My esteemed colleague Kelly managed to post this first, but I feel the need to bring in my own $0.02. I must admit that when I received the email from Dean Klein concerning the snafu with the commencement ceremony date my initial response was quite unprintable. I have had a few days to review the email and do some research on the issues involved. Respectfully I am still very concerned.

"During the summer, the University informed us that it was forced to move the date of commencement because of miscommunications with the Convention Center."
First, I am assuming that the dean is referring to the law school commencement, not the all IUPUI commencement that few, if any, law students attend. Second, the tone of the email makes it sound like the situation was known for at least a few weeks, possibly longer. That I have no problem with as a snap decision that affects approximately 300 students would be quite harmful.

"Our best option was to leave the calendar as it had been set, and have finals end a couple of days after graduation."
Here are what I believe the options could have been: 1) leave the final exam calendar as is and have the commencement ceremony on the earlier May 8th date with finals ending May 11th, 2) move up the entire calendar, 3) go with the original commencement ceremony date of May 15th, which is after finals, but move the ceremony to another site such as Conseco Fieldhouse, The Murat, Clowes Hall at Butler University, or a nearby high school that graduates 1,000 seniors a year and can easily handle our paltry 300 or so.

Option 1 was chosen. Option 2 I see great difficulties with, as that would involve altering the schedule of the entire student body. Plane tickets have already been purchased for travel and it is possible leases for living quarters have been signed as well. Moving the schedule of the spring semester would have a tremendous ripple effect for everyone. What of Option 3? A miscommunication did occur between Indiana University and the Convention Center. Could the University have gotten out of the contract easily? Were other sites available? Did the University even think of other sites? Would it have cost too much money? I have $10 in my wallet now and I am sure other graduating 3Ls would have willingly donated some money to the cause if that were part of the problem. I believe these to be legitimate questions, yet we will never know the answers.

Which leads to my most disconcerting feeling about the email, how was the decision made, who made it, and did any student involvement by either the Student Bar Association, the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, or some other student group occur? As law students we are supposedly among the best and the brightest of people. Also the average age of our graduating class is currently somewhere around 28 to 30 years old, implying experience, wisdom, and maturity among us. It feels as if a significant decision concerning us, the student body, was made without any consultation of the people affected. Perhaps the SBA or DSAB was involved, if so then fine. If not, then I have to question the decision making process involved.

The administration promises to "be sensitive to this issue when scheduling spring exam dates, and will make every effort to allow May graduates to complete all of their exams before May 8." Let us run the numbers. This fall the school will have 65 final exams in 11 days. Only 3 exams are scheduled on Saturdays, and no exams are scheduled on a Sunday. Last spring the school had 72 final exams in 12 days with 4 finals on Saturdays and none on a Sunday. For this upcoming spring semester there will be 12 days to take exams assuming no Sundays, and I see no reason why the number of classes offered and exams taken would be significantly different. Aside from LARC III and the first year standards, it is likely a graduating 3L will be in every other final exam, some of which would normally be the three days after May 8th. Though Inlow Hall is a fantastic resource it is a limited one. Only a finite number of classrooms exist in which we can have exams. How can this limited resource accommodate three extra days worth of exams? Here is my prediction, more final exams scheduled on Saturday and possibly some on a Sunday. Whether or not you believe that to be a good or bad thing I shall leave up to you.

In an organization as large as the law school and the IUPUI campus things will go wrong from time to time. That happens in life. As we, the law school, are a part of the IUPUI campus many things will occur that affect us that we have no control over. See the parking situation as one example. Yet 2004 has been a trying time for time for the student body. A switch in software prevented anyone from having financial aid money for summer classes, and no one was told until they applied for student loans to cover summer classes. Parking permits were ordered, yet many summer students never received them and were ticketed. This semester many Indiana University students, including some here, are unable to access financial aid money for classes now, resulting in the need for emergency loans. Now we have this commencement situation to add to the list of Mickey Mouse problems and major gaffes. We have eight and a half months to go before graduation. I fear what else could occur in that great a timespan. To the administrators of the school, the university, and the I.U. Trustee Board I have to respectfully ask this question, "What are you all doing that keeps fumbling the football?"

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