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Archive for Saturday, April 20, 1991

KU COMMENCEMENT PLAN DRAWS STORMY RESPONSE

April 20, 1991

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It took Marion Dyer, a non-traditional student at Kansas University, about 10 years to earn her bachelor's degree, and she doesn't think bad weather should cancel her commencement ceremonies.

She completed her studies in anthropology in December and plans to go through graduation ceremonies May 19. But if it rains on commencement Sunday, Dyer, and the approximately 3,500 other KU students graduating this spring, will be left high and dry. KU has decided it won't have a ceremony at all if it can't be held in Memorial Stadium.

Commencement ceremonies will be canceled for the first time in KU history if there's inclement weather May 19. If it is raining the morning of commencement, the outdoor procession and ceremony scheduled at 3 p.m. may be postponed.

IF THE WEATHER clears, the procession will begin at 5:30 p.m. But if it is still raining at 5 p.m., KU will cancel its 119th commencement ceremonies.

James Scally, assistant to the chancellor and commmencement coordinator, said Friday that he had received "a couple dozen" complaints from students and parents about the decision to cancel commencement if it rains. The decision was made by the commencement committee with the approval of Chancellor Gene Budig.

In the past, ceremonies were moved to Allen Fieldhouse during rain-outs. The last time that happened was 1981. Scally said during an interview earlier this week that there would be no way to accommodate a commencement crowd in the fieldhouse, which he said is "probably the least safe building on campus." Scally said the audience at KU's ceremonies has grown considerably since 1981.

When asked if KU would reconsider its decision, Scally said, "I'm sure we'll keep discussing it."

A NATIONAL Weather Service forecaster in Topeka said there is a 35 percent chance of rain on any given day in May.

Scally said he's explained to students and parents that the administration only is worried about their safety, but he said, "They don't really care much, which I find a little surprising."

Dyer says she understands the reasons behind the decision, but she is working with other students to develop an alternative.

One suggestion is postponing ceremonies until Monday. Scally said earlier this week that the administration didn't think it would be appropriate to ask people to stay in town overnight.

BUT DYER said she thought it would be better to disappoint some people than to disappoint everyone.

"I realize there is no good alternative if it rains," she said. "Not everybody is going to be satisfied with an alternative plan. But I don't think that's a good enough reason why we shouldn't have one more try."

Dyer said she called Sen. Nancy Kassebaum, R-Kansas, and Gov. Joan Finney to voice her dissatisfaction with KU's plan.

Dyer also sent a letter to Scally and she's planning a noon protest Wednesday in front of Strong Hall. Dyer's mother, who lives in Hawaii, and sister, who lives in California, have made plans to attend the commencement ceremonies.

"I am a non-traditional student I was out of school about five years and for me, this is a very special achievement," Dyer said. It's a major life event for me."

Carla Puky, a Caracas, Venezuela, senior, is expecting four family members from her native country to attend the ceremonies. A fifth relative from California also plans to come to Lawrence for commencement.

Puky said she hadn't called her family yet about the possibility of ceremonies being canceled because "I'm trying to be optimistic."

Liz Mendez, a Kansas City, Kan., senior who's working with Dyer on making an alternate proposal to the administration, said, "I have a lot of friends I'm graduating with. We've been through four years together. We started together, and we want to finish together."

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