Students petition to keep Honors College graduation on the Quad

This year, the graduation ceremony will take place at Mizzou Arena.
A student passes by the Columns on Francis Quadrangle on Monday afternoon. Senior Michelle Fiesta created a petition to keep the Honors College graduation ceremony on the Quad.

MU Honors College students are petitioning to keep the Honors Graduation Ceremony in its traditional location on Francis Quadrangle.

The petition, created by senior Michelle Fiesta and posted online on Feb. 27, has reached more than 240 signatures. Many of the signatures include comments in support of Fiesta’s stance.

Fiesta said she was under the impression that after working toward graduating with honors for three years, she would be able to graduate in the traditional location.

“I just heard about (the change) recently,” she said. “I had assumed it would be on the quad, and some friends of mine who work in the Honors College told me that this would not be the case this year.”

This year, the ceremony will be held at Mizzou Arena, a site formerly used only when weather would not permit the event to take place on the Quad, Fiesta said.

Though the petition is designated to Honors College administrative officials, Honors College Director Nancy West said that her department had very little to do with the change.

“It is the Registrar Office’s decision,” West said. “The ceremony is run entirely through them. I think one of the confusing thing about honors at MU is that there are so many ways to graduate with honors, be it as a Latin scholar or through their individual departments, so we’re actually just one part of the ceremony, but when this news came out, we got all of the irate phone calls.”

West said graduation on the Quad is a tradition that has been around since she’s been a faculty member of the university.

“Personally I think it’s a lovely tradition to have outside, and I know quite a few of the parents and students are disappointed,” she said. “Many of the parents went through this tradition themselves so they are sad to see it go.”

Fiesta said she published the petition partially just to find out who she needed to address the issue to, as well as to gather some support for the initiative.

“I guess the idea behind the petition was that I would have some backing,” she said. “I was thinking about getting students from different types of honors and others from around the university who have established themselves as leaders, like Mizzou 39, to get a small group of students to talk to the Registrar's Office and see if we can change their minds.”

In her petition, Fiesta said she understands the administration’s concerns about the confusion that occurs when weather-related changes have to be made to the ceremony, but she thinks that with enough preparation these can be overcome.

“As members of the Honors College and recipients of high academic honors, we humbly request that the Honors College and upper-level administration reopen the possibility of graduation on the Quad, dependent on projected weather conditions the week of the ceremony,” the petition states.

Both Fiesta and West said the graduation ceremony on the Quad is an expected benefit of completing honors requirements.

"Though (graduating with honors) is a distinction on its own, one of the most attractive benefits of being a member of the Honors College at the University of Missouri is the opportunity to graduate on the Quad," the petition states.

The petition is named "Keep the Mizzou Honors College Ceremony on the Quad!" and can be viewed online at Care2.com.

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