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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students to decide graduation place

The Committee on Commencement will ask the senior class where it wants to hold Commencement ceremonies this year, College President James Freedman said.

Last year, the College moved Commencement from its traditional location on the lawn in front of Baker Library, where it had been held for 42 years, to Memorial Field.

The change was made to accommodate the huge number of people who wanted to see President Bill Clinton deliver the keynote address. College officials also had concerns about Clinton's security if Commencement was in front of the library.

While in June Special Assistant to the President Peter Gilbert said the move was a "one-year only move," Freedman said the senior class will make the decision.

The Committee on Commencement will hold its first meeting on Dec. 15, said Barbara Whipple, who chairs the committee. Whipple is the director of public programs and campaign events.

Right now, Whipple said she is unsure how exactly the committee will solicit the opinions of the senior class.

"There are some logistical issues to contend with," Whipple said. "We look forward to talking to the senior class ... and we need to find the most effective way to get out to the class."

Senior Class Vice President Tom Caputo said he is "glad to see that the administration is interested in finding out where students would like to see Commencement be held."

Caputo said he thinks many people favor returning Commencement to the Baker lawn.

"People would love to see it moved back again," he said.

Senior Class President Brendan Doherty is the only student on the Committee on Commencement.

"Personally, I would like to graduate on the Green ... However, I do not speak for everyone," he said.

Freedman said there are some advantages to having Commencement ceremonies at Memorial Field.

"I think that the Green is the traditional place as well as the most beautiful place for Commencement," Freedman said. "What I think that we learned is that the stadium is superior in every aspect except ambiance."

There are still some concerns about holding Commencement on the Green. "Because it is so flat ... it is difficult for parents to see," Freedman said.

The last time the College moved Commencement ceremonies was in 1952, when the College moved them from the Bema to Baker's front lawn to accommodate then President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"I think we just obviously out grew the Bema," Freedman said.

Dean of the Faculty James Wright, who as acting president this spring made the decision to move Commencement, said in April that he was not sure if the move would be permanent or not.