Archive for Thursday, May 30, 1996


May 30, 1996


A KU honor student feels cheated the 1996 commencement procession didn't pass through the Campanile.

Angela Clayton had to juggle obligations of a Kansas University accounting student and endless responsibilities of wife and mother.

Yet she graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and earned the School of Business outstanding senior award.

It goes without saying that she knows time management.

"That's why commencement was so disappointing," Clayton said. "People who don't go to KU may not understand, but from the first day on campus I looked forward to walking through the Campanile at graduation.

"Then to have it ripped out from under us for the sake of time!"

At commencement May 19, graduates were split into two lines to reduce time required to get them from Memorial Drive, down a hill packed with cheering family and friends, and into Memorial Stadium for the formal ceremony.

The lines of graduates didn't pass through the Campanile, which had been the university's tradition until 1995.

Bruce Bublitz, associate dean of the business school, attempted to lead Clayton and other defiant business graduates through the Campanile.

He said approval for the detour was granted by George McCleary, chair of the university's commencement committee.

"He clearly told me that any student who wanted to go through had the right to go through and would not be stopped," Bublitz said. "When we approached they wouldn't let any of us move toward there."

On Wednesday before a commencement committee meeting, McCleary said he didn't grant passage to Bublitz or anyone else.

Meanwhile, Clayton said a KU faculty member stationed at the Campanile during commencement ordered the business graduates to "grow up" and return to their place in line. An unidentified professor physically prevented two students from entering the Campanile, she said.

"It was a surprise to see faculty in full regalia strong-arming students," Clayton said.

McCleary said he didn't know whether any of the 10 commencement officials at the Campanile restrained students.

In addition, Clayton said a campus police officer threatened to arrest Bublitz if he led students through the World War II memorial.

Maj. Ralph Oliver of the KU Police Department said two officers were assigned to the Campanile to monitor alcohol consumption.

"Both of them have no idea what these people are talking about," Oliver said. "No one issued threats to arrest anyone."

Bublitz said KU faculty and police let down their guard after his group of business students moved away. An undetermined number of graduates -- including all the business school's MBA degree recipients -- walked through the tower.

He said he confronted McCleary following commencement.

"All he did was brag about how he got them down the hill in 46 minutes," Bublitz said.

KU's commencement was moved from evening to afternoon six years ago to reduce alcohol consumption by graduates. That tactic has been successful, but the time shift created heat endurance problems for the 35,000 or so people in the stadium.

The solution was to split the 4,000 graduates into two lines and move them more quickly by abandoning a trek to the Campanile.

"It was important to get people down the hill as fast as possible because it was so terribly hot on the field," McCleary said.

Grey Montgomery, KU's student body president, urged colleagues on the commencement committee to restore the traditional procession.

The committee will study the issue, McCleary said.

Clayton said it was too late to undo damage that occurred May 19, 1996.

"I'll look back on graduation as a day we were prevented from taking part in one of KU's great traditions -- just to save a little time."

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