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  • Savannah Carr

Graduation changes leave PBA seniors upset

The class of 2024 is voicing their concerns over recent changes to the upcoming commencement ceremony. The university states the change is due to spacing and availability issues at previous venues.

Palm Beach Atlantic University’s graduating class of 2024 is voicing concerns about a recent change to the university’s commencement ceremony. The change moves the ceremony from the previously used convention center to the Reuben Arena on campus.

The graduating class learned of the change when graduation information was posted on the university’s website. Consequently, students swiftly became both concerned and upset.

Senior Gracie Malinowski started a petition to help voice the students' concerns, which now has over 900 signatures. The university administration’s response to the petition remains unknown.

“Holding the ceremony in the gym does not reflect the prestige associated with completing college education,” Malinowski wrote in the petition.

This alteration to the ceremony also refreshes past turmoil with the class of 2024, who did not have a proper high school graduation due to the 2020 pandemic, now feeling they once again are losing graduation.

“This is an issue we care about, especially after losing an in-person graduation due to the pandemic,” Malinowski said. “The class of 2024 deserves a real graduation.”

The students are not the only ones with concerns; several parents have expressed reservations about the venue, parking, and even the number of tickets students were allotted.

“PBA has decided to deprive these kids of the beautiful graduation ceremony that previous graduating classes have received,” wrote one mom in a social media post.

The venue’s atmosphere is not the sole concern. The graduating class will be split into two ceremonies, according to the university’s website. Preventing friends from different disciplines from cheering each other on.

“These kids have friends graduating in multiple disciplines and can’t even cheer each other on because of the venue size,” said Loretto Frances Smith Polacheck, a PBA parent.

Palm Beach Atlantic’s registrar Kathy Majzner has addressed some of these concerns, with others still under consideration. According to Majzner, this decision to change venues was made a year ago due to issues with booking a large enough venue in Palm Beach County.

“The convention center is owned and operated by the commissioners and they have set standards on how far in advance we can book,” Majzner said. “This means bigger groups take up all the dates.”

Similarly, the Expo Center at the Fairgrounds is already booked with a monthly occurring event.

Majzner also went on to clarify that this venue change is not a budget cut, but rather circumstantial.

“It was a definite administrative decision to showcase our campus,” said Majzner. “We are going to do the best we can with what we have available.”.

Parking does not seem to be an issue, with all of the student lots available. Plans for shuttles or designated lots for disabled parking are in progress.

Previous confusion among the graduates regarding the number of tickets has been clarified by Majzner, who assures the website is accurate and that each student will receive up to five tickets.

Guest seating will be in bleachers, with regular seating for the graduates and those needing ADA accommodations.

The university is also working hard to ensure the venue still holds the respectable atmosphere expected of a college commencement. The Ruben Arena will be decorated with drapes to cover the walls and time clock. The stage will be decorated with the greenery seen in previous graduation ceremonies.

The Rotunda in the Warren Library will also be open all day, providing the graduates and families an opportunity to mingle and celebrate.

“We will have some refreshments, maybe some hors d’oeuvres,” said Majzner. “There will be lots of photo-ops and faculty will be there so students can introduce their parents to their favorite teachers.”

Majzner also understands the frustration of losing a graduation ceremony, as her son was set to graduate from PBA in 2020.

“There was no commencement. We did a virtual thing where the deans read the names.”

With the loss of graduation in 2020, the anticipation of the graduation ceremony for the class of 2024 comes with many feelings; no doubt some negative feelings given this change.

“It will be worth it,” Majzner said. “It will be a very nice celebration, it will be dignified and it will be formal.”

By Savannah Carr

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