Beyond its pomp and circumstance and beyond its public relations and fund raising components, Commencement should be an event that is the culmination of and reward for years of efforts by students, the conferring of their degrees. In recent years, for reasons of expedience, more and more students who participate in Commencement have not earned degrees. The recent proposal that School Commencements take place two or three days after the end of final exams would make it impossible to determine, in many more cases, which students have actually earned their degrees.
This situation is undesirable for a number of reasons. Absent the urgency previously imposed by Commencement, faculty members will no longer feel compelled to submit grades for graduating seniors as quickly as possible. As a result, some students will have to wait much longer before learning whether or not they actually have earned their degree. The Commencement ceremony itself will lose some of its meaning if everyone present knows that many participants are not actually getting degrees. Pretending that a student has earned a degree when she or he has not sends the wrong message to our students about academic integrity and the perceived value of their degrees.
Resolved. There should be at least one week between the end of final exams and School Commencements so that all participants in Commencement can be certified as having earned their degrees.