2019 commencement plans to change ticketing, regalia

The majority of students graduating from DePaul in May and June 2019 will only receive six free, general admission tickets for their guests of choice to the commencement ceremonies at the Wintrust Area in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.

Another controversial change for DePaul’s 120th graduation festivities is that students will now have to pay for their own regalia for the ceremonies. Before tax, DePaul undergraduates will need to pay $67 while graduate students will need to pay $101. Ph.D students face a $125 fee for their regalia. This comes after many years of DePaul being one of the only institutions in the country that paid for its graduates’ caps and gowns.

The College of Law’s ceremony, which will take place next May, is DePaul’s only ceremony for which graduates won’t face a ticket limit because it will have fewer graduates in comparison to DePaul’s other colleges. However, law students will still need to pay for their own regalia. Soon-to-be graduates were informed of this year’s policy on Oct. 3 via email.

When asked about having to pay for regalia, Emma Dirr, a senior secondary math major in the College of Education, said that “it sucks.”

“I already have to spend so much money as an education major doing background checks and community [service] for observation hours that this is just another strike against a lot of us,” Dirr said.

An integral reason as to why DePaul is limiting its graduates’ tickets is an attempt to make all of the graduation ceremonies more similar in length, which is why the Driehaus College of Business and the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business will be holding separate commencement ceremonies next June instead of having both ceremonies together as they have done in previous years.

“Both of these plans more evenly distribute the numbers of graduates in all ceremonies,” said Jennifer Kramer, the Director of University Events. “DePaul has paid for student regalia for decades. Faced with continually rising costs for commencement exercises, this will be the first year DePaul is asking graduates to pay for regalia. As we moved toward implementing a practice used by many institutions, we worked hard to negotiate prices that are in line with, or below, what students at other institutions pay. It is important for students to know that unlike other universities, DePaul will not charge a graduation fee.”

DePaul began limiting the amount of tickets that its graduates received in the 2017-2018 academic year. A huge factor behind the change in the guest policy came due to the the change in the commencement venue from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont to the newly-opened Wintrust Arena, which has a capacity of just 10,387 compared to Allstate Arena’s capacity of 18,000.

Frustration shown by students on social media is partially rooted in the fact that certain colleges offered more than six guest tickets to its graduates just a year ago. Students who graduated in June 2018 from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the School for New Learning received eight free tickets while those who earned their degrees from the College of Science and Health and the College of Education got seven tickets.

Students who graduated from the College of Computing and Digital Media, the College of Communication and the Driehaus College of Business alongside the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business received just five tickets. The only graduating students exempt from that policy were students from the College of Law, the Theatre School and the School of Music. Those graduation ceremonies were held at the McCormick Place Grand Ballroom.

Jessica Ley, a senior political science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, isn’t fond of being allowed to invite only six guests to see her walk across the stage.

“I think six tickets is enough for a lot of people, but as someone with a large, close family, it’s a little frustrating that everyone who wants to go won’t be able to attend,” Ley said. “I have a lot of friends and family coming into town in June, and I know they would all love to attend.”

Last year, some students sold their spare graduation tickets from $100- $250. To avoid that happening again , DePaul is currently working on a process by Winter Quarter where students can request a small amount of tickets beyond their allotment based on availability, according to the email sent that was sent out to upcoming graduates.

While the guest limit for DePaul’s commencement still stands, it doesn’t put a dent in the DePaul experience for everyone.

“I love DePaul’s connectivity with the city,” Ley said. “The city really is your campus here, as cheesy as that may be, but being able to embrace Chicago and everything it has to offer through my academic departments, classes and extracurricular activities has given me a one-of-a-kind college experience that I know a lot of my peers at state schools are not going to have.”