Barnard administrators have opted to move the 2013 Commencement off campus to Radio City Music Hall, in the hope of finding a venue that can provide more space for the ceremony.
Barnard Dean Avis Hinkson said in an email to Spectator that Lehman Lawn is no longer able to accommodate Commencement, and said that administrators are continuing to look for “just the right place” to hold the ceremony.
The change was announced last week in an email sent by Barnard President Debora Spar and Hinkson, who called Radio City an “optimal venue for this milestone celebration.”
JungHee Hyun, BC ’13 and president of Barnard’s Student Government Association, said that it is difficult to hold Barnard’s commencement on Columbia’s campus, because the University hosts several commencement ceremonies within days of each other.
Last spring, the School of General Studies was forced to reschedule its Class Day due to security measures surrounding the decision of President Barack Obama, CC ’83, to speak at Barnard.
“It would have been nice to have it outside on the lawn. That’s beautiful. But I think this is cool in its own way, too,” Lauren Hancock, BC ’13, said.
Spar and Hinkson noted in their email that Radio City would be able to “comfortably accommodate our seniors, six guests per graduate, faculty, staff, and distinguished guests.”
Linda Zhang, BC ’13 and Barnard senior class president, said that when she and members of the senior class council met with Hinkson to discuss plans for Commencement, securing enough tickets to satisfy all graduates was an important topic of discussion.
“Time and again, students and parents have made it overwhelmingly clear to us that their top priority is a venue that allows for the maximum number of guest tickets per graduate,” Hinkson said.
Spar and Hinkson said that bus transportation would be provided for all graduates and faculty following the Baccalaureate Service and academic departmental receptions held on Columbia and Barnard’s campuses.
A Barnard spokesperson also said in an email that Barnard is currently researching transportation options for guests.
The decision to move Commencement off campus, however, puzzled some students.
“The big question I had was, why Radio City?” Larissa Claude, BC ’13, said.
Hyun said that choosing to hold Commencement at Radio City, while exciting, was also “unexpected” and seemed “out of the blue.”
While some aspects of the Commencement have yet to be finalized, Hyun said that “this is the first time I’ve really thought about what it’s going to look like.”
“It seems more legit now that we have a date and location,” she said.
Hancock said that she found the location to be an apt choice.
“I think it’s kind of fitting to have it off campus in Midtown,” she said. “I think that one of the greatest things, at least for me, about being at Barnard is that you’re in New York and a lot of your life happens off campus.”