(UPDATED) Commencement Moved Inside to Nelson Arena–People Are Pissed

We are guessing they are trying to avoid something like this.

We are guessing they are trying to avoid something like this.

UPDATE: It was announced at the Senior Class Photo earlier this afternoon that commencement would be limited seating because of capacity constraints. We now know from President Liebowitz’s all-school email (click below for the full email) that it will be in Nelson (not Kenyon as we previously reported) and limited to three ticked per person. It will also be simulcasted in Mead Chapel, McCullough Social Space, Dana Auditorium, and McCardell Bicentennial Hall. He cites safety as the main reason:

“…the weather forecast for Sunday morning is calling for 42-45 degrees, winds from the northwest at 20 mph, a wind chill of 39 degrees, and an 80% chance of rain.  In addition, the quad will be saturated following three days of significant rain and therefore dangerous for the 5,000 anticipated participants and guests. The size and scope of this event required us to make this decision this morning with the best information available.  Our primary concern is the safety of all our guests.”

People are pissed. Facebook Newsfeeds have blown up with variations of “WTF, MIDDLEBURY” and “this is UNJUST!!! #gradoutdoors” and pleas for everyone to send emails to Ron and Dean Collado begging them to keep graduation outside. A “We the Middkids” petition already has almost 300 votes, prompting Charlie to make this impassioned video:

It’s not surprising that people are angry and emotional about this, but we doubt any of the backlash from the graduates will amount to much. The institution can’t really budge when it comes to safety, and with 5,000 expected guests in attendance, the lawn would become a dangerous mud pit real quick. College kids can dance in the rain, but not the same can be said for grandmas in wheelchairs and uncles with walkers. Safety is the admin’s primary concern, but money is certainly of concern as well — it would cost thousands of dollars to replace the lawn after a muddy grad stampede. That said…we will let you if we hear more updates.

Ron’s Email:

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Regrettably, the grim weather forecast for Sunday is causing us to move Sunday’s Commencement Ceremony indoors to Nelson Recreation Center.  We will simulcast the event in Mead Chapel, McCullough Social Space, Dana Auditorium, and McCardell Bicentennial Hall.  The event will also be streamed live on the College’s website.

We would of course prefer that Commencement be held outdoors, but the weather forecast for Sunday morning is calling for 42-45 degrees, winds from the northwest at 20 mph, a wind chill of 39 degrees, and an 80% chance of rain.  In addition, the quad will be saturated following three days of significant rain and therefore dangerous for the 5,000 anticipated participants and guests.  The size and scope of this event required us to make this decision this morning with the best information available.  Our primary concern is the safety of all our guests.

Here’s what you need to know:

Each graduating senior will be allocated up to three tickets for Nelson Recreation Center seating.  Other guests are encouraged to join one of the simulcasts in the above-mentioned locations.

You can pick up your tickets at the Box Office in McCullough Student Center today (Friday) from now until 6:00 p.m. and tomorrow (Saturday) from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  You must have your student ID to receive the tickets.

All event times for Saturday and Sunday will remain the same.   On Sunday, graduating students should line up inside Kenyon Arena at 9 a.m.

Additional details will be updated on the Commencement website this afternoon.  I will keep you apprised of any other changes as needed.

Thanks for your understanding.

Ron
(Original Post) For the first time in a long time, Commencement will be moved inside due to bad weather. This is  despite the website saying:

Middlebury College hosts an outdoor Commencement ceremony to meet the desire of our graduates to invite family, friends, and guests. The ceremony is held outside, rain or shine.

We’ve heard that it’s going to be in Kenyon Nelson now. The Last Chance Dance has also been moved inside to McCullough Social Space and the Senior Formal to Nelson McCullough, as well. Here is the sad, sad weather forecast for this weekend.

The sad, sad weather forecast for this weekend.

  • Unbeliever

    What’s your source for this

    • usher

      Dunno about middbeat but I heard it from Susan Baldridge, VP for planning

  • Angry

    Also each student is now limited to 2 seats..this is ridiculous for all of us who had family fly across the country or across the world for this

  • Senior Committee

    FYI the Senior Formal has been moved to McCullough Social Space due to the changes in the Commencement location. The dance will still take place from 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., with the Grift performing.