May 12, 2007

NEWS: College Stops Providing Escorts

JCCC to graduates: 'take a walk'
Practice of faculty escorting graduating students ends

By Miguel M. Morales

They say graduating students walk alone.
At Johnson County Community College, they mean it.
Starting this year, JCCC faculty will no longer escort graduates making the walk to accept their diplomas.
“It’s a good thing,” said Vin Clark, president of the Faculty Association.
In an April 11 e-mail, Clark informed the Faculty Association members of the change.
“Yesterday afternoon Dr. Tyree informed me that the practice of faculty members’ escorting of students during graduation would be suspended,” he wrote.
Clark said that for several years the Faculty Association sought to end the tradition.
Two years ago, Betty Bullock, professor of Sociology, formed a committee to study graduation and propose changes in the procedure.
“I raised the issue at a Liberal Arts Division (LAD) meeting as well as in a Faculty Association meeting,” she said. “In the LAD meeting 90 percent of the faculty wanted the practice to stop. In the FA meeting, approximately 80 percent of the faculty wanted the practice to stop.”
Bullock said there are four reasons for the change:

  1. Usually grandparents or older adults who cannot climb the bleachers sit on the lowest seats in the gym. When faculty and students lined up for the walk, the view is blocked and proud relatives/friends cannot see the very person for whom they are in attendance.
  2. The purpose of the faculty escort was to congratulate the student and make him or her feel more comfortable. The conversation raises the noise level in the gym along with the noise generated by the motion of escorting. The increased noise gives the audience permission to talk and move around. Therefore, the dignity and decorum of the ceremony is lost. In addition, the increased noise level makes it difficult to hear student's name called.
  3. The faculty supports escorting students with whom they have a personal relationship, but the current pairing up is strictly random.
  4. Deaf students and instructors do not benefit from this practice because of the random pairing.

Clark’s e-mail says the confusion over whether to discontinue the procedure came to a head and forced him to appeal directly to Tyree.
“Once again, I am very grateful for his perceptiveness, good judgment, and decisive action,” Clark said. “This decision again displays Dr. Tyree’s perceptive and decisive leadership.”