In response to complaints from students, parents and faculty members, Kansas University officials have decided not to cancel commencement in case of rain.
Del Shankel, executive vice chancellor, said this morning that the commencement committee now is considering using "about three different sites" in its contingency plan for commencement, scheduled for May 19. Under the plan, students would be divided into several groups for a series of ceremonies.
In the past, commencement has been moved from Memorial Stadium to Allen Fieldhouse during rainouts. But KU officials said this year that the fieldhouse would not accommodate the entire commencement crowd, posing safety problems.
THE DECISION to cancel commencement in case of rain was met with outrage by students and parents, who said the approximately 3,500 KU students graduating this spring deserve a commencement ceremony.
Shankel said this morning that members of the committee are working on details. He said university officials were touched that students were so concerned that the university planned to cancel ceremonies in case of rain.
"I think several of the people who called the chancellor really kind of touched our hearts on the issue, and we decided that we really do need to do something to make sure we don't have to cancel commencement ceremonies," Shankel said. "We are developing a plan that will work."
JAMES SCALLY, assistant to Chancellor Gene Budig, said the committee would iron out the details today. Scally is coordinator of commencement and said last week that it would be irresponsible of the university to hold ceremonies entirely in Allen Fieldhouse or delay ceremonies until the next day if weather prevented them from being held in the stadium.
He said Allen Fieldhouse definitely would be used in the contingency plan, and that Hoch Auditorium and Murphy Hall may be used as additional sites.
Shankel said the committee discussed postponing commencement a day but dismissed that idea.
"We don't think postponing it until the next day is a viable alternative because so many people come from out of town and would have difficulties finding a place to stay," he said.
WILLIAM Bayne, a Lawrence senior, was one of several students who planned a protest rally at noon Wednesday in front of Strong Hall. He said today that the rally still will be held.
"Maybe it'll be a party. Maybe it'll be a protest. Who knows?" said Bayne, who hadn't heard about the university's new plan until today.
Bayne agreed that postponing ceremonies until May 20 was not the answer.
"It's important to do it that day," he said.