Kustra responds to BSU students' concerns over graduation relocation

Boise State University’s announcement last week that the school’s May 5th spring commencement will be held at the Taco Bell Arena has sparked anger and concern from a number of graduating seniors.

“The return to the (Taco Bell Arena; the commencement has previously been held outdoors at Albertsons Stadium) was prompted by the prospect of inclement weather negatively impacting the experience, postponing the event or even canceling it outright. The celebration is too important to so many graduates and the Boise State community to risk a cancellation,” a BSU press release stated.

“Each graduate will be allotted five tickets for the arena to ensure all students have the chance for their chosen friends and family to attend the ceremony in person,” the release added. “There will be no limit to access the festivities and viewing rooms in the SUB. Out-of-town friends, family and others also may view the ceremony online at BoiseState.edu.”

But the decision is not sitting well with students.

In an e-mail to the Six On Your Side newsroom, one student said, “This change impacts the Class of 2018 incredibly. The administration is limiting students to only 5 guests per graduate to attend the commencement ceremony. Many of us have had family planning to travel for weeks now and obviously have more than 5 family members that were excited to help us celebrate this achievement. In my case, this would mean that my parents and sisters could attend, but not my grandparents, aunt and uncle, or even my fiancé.”

In response to the students’ complaints and concerns, Boise State University President Bob Kustra released the following statement Wednesday:

“Dear students,

“We have heard concerns regarding graduation this spring at Taco Bell Arena and understand them. Although spring commencement will not be held at Albertsons Stadium this May, we are working to assure that there are enough tickets for families at graduation through a redistribution system. We will be gathering details from graduates on their ticket needs in the coming weeks, as we know some graduates will want more than five tickets and some will want fewer. If we determine that we cannot accommodate graduates and their families in one ceremony, then we can consider holding two ceremonies, one in the morning and one in the afternoon in the arena.

“A very rosy picture has been painted about last year's graduation at Albertsons Stadium, but the possibility of rain, wind and lightning threatened to cancel the entire celebration. And with cancellation, as it works at any university with outdoor graduations, graduates simply report to a location to pick up their diplomas without the pomp and circumstance of a graduation ceremony, which is our number one priority for parents, families and graduates alike.

“We also had complaints from attendees about how cold the aluminum stadium seats were, and many left early to watch the ceremony in the warmth of the Student Union. With commencement even earlier this year, concern about weather conditions is heightened.

“Last year's graduation experiment was also very expensive. When the bills came in for renting the stage, sound system and flooring to protect the stadium turf, the bill was a quarter of a million dollars. Given our highest priority of having a graduation ceremony regardless of the weather outside — plus the funding challenges of an outdoor graduation — it is simply too risky and too expensive to do again this spring, especially when we have held wonderful graduations at Taco Bell Arena for many years without any concerns about cancelling an entire graduation ceremony.

“Please bear with us as we figure this out in the next few weeks. I assure you this year, as I was not able to do with last year's outdoor graduation, that there will be a graduation ceremony and we will figure out a way to accommodate families in the process.”

— President Bob Kustra

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