Kansas University officials announced today that commencement for the graduating class of 1990 will begin in the afternoon.
Graduation exercises formerly were conducted in the evening.
This year's procession will start at 2:30 p.m. May 20, a Sunday, at Memorial Stadium, according to James Scally, assistant to the chancellor. Scally said the KU Commencement Committee, a board of about 25 university faculty and staff members, made the change for several reasons.
"We made the decision for many reasons," Scally said. "The most obvious is that Memorial Stadium is not designed for nighttime activities. The lighting was insufficient, and it would be dark before commencement was finished. That's a great risk to the people who attend commencement."
He said that the committee also was concerned about elderly guests who must climb the stadium stairs in the dark and about guests who must drive home after the ceremonies, which normally attract 25,000-30,000 people.
"Many of them spend the night in Lawrence," Scally said. "But a lot of them have to drive home, too. For some of them, that's a long drive home in the dark. We felt that making commencement in the afternoon would be safer and more convenient for guests of the graduates."
The decision to change commencement activities is not a first at the university. Until 1978, the ceremony was held on Mondays.
He said students drinking during commencement also was a factor in the committee's decision.
Complaints have been voiced by commencement guests over the years about student drinking during the KU graduation ceremonies. Drinking is prohibited on campus because of state law.
"I feel strongly that the problem has been exaggerated, but we did consider it," Scally said. "It wasn't an overriding concern, but it is a concern."