On Monday, Dean of the School of General Studies Peter Awn announced that GS Class Day would be rescheduled to accommodate security needs for President Barack Obama's appearance at Barnard's commencement. We sympathize with all GS students whose families will not be able to attend their graduation due to the date change. Class Day is arguably the most important day of our college careers, save maybe for Convocation, the first day of classes, or Commencement. To change plans at the last minute and possibly deprive families from sharing in their graduates' pride is, in Awn's words, "unacceptable." Without knowing why Awn's announcement came when it did, it is difficult and unproductive to assign blame. If the GS administration was kept in the dark about security, Awn should make that clear to students. As it stands, the University could help GS smooth out the logistical burdens that rescheduling entails. In particular, it should take the concerns of the affected students into consideration, especially as many have already expressed frustration at their lack of input prior to the rescheduling announcement. From what we saw at the GSSC meeting last night, the GS student body is taking the change in stride. Students spent the meeting working on damage control and concrete solutions to deal with the rescheduling. It is especially encouraging that they are considering solutions for the families who won't be able to come or who will have to spend more money on travel. Awn emailed the GS student body about a "modest fund" that the administration is setting up for any graduating senior who is facing an "excessive financial hardship" from the date change. We hope that the fund is expanded, though, to compensate the many students whose families' plans were derailed due to the last-minute change. Among the other proposals brought up at the GSSC meeting were plans to raise money from alumni and look to the other undergraduate schools for support. These plans show GS students' creative and productive solutions. As the affected students seek a course of action, they deserve the attention and support of other students. CCSC, SGA, and ESC should show solidarity with GS graduates, and the rest of the undergraduate student body should follow their lead and demonstrate understanding and support. We understand the logistical challenges the University faces when hosting the president of the United States and think it unfortunate that the GS graduating class must suffer. As the affected GS students adapt to Monday's announcement, we hope the rest of the student body will show support.
Columbia Spectator Staff