Commencement ’98

Sunday’s Commencement ceremony on the Ellipse was picture-perfect. Students’ long battle to keep the Ellipse tradition alive was rewarded as graduates and their families were treated to a well-planned ceremony on a sun-soaked Ellipse – more proof that Commencement should continue to be held in the backyard of the White House.

The success of the ceremony can be attributed to good planning, strong student support and a little cooperation from Mother Nature.

The planning that went into the event was tremendous, to say the least. Seating thousands of people, making sure they could see and hear everything, and ensuring they would receive quick medical attention if necessary must have been a daunting task. But the ceremony seemingly went off without a hitch – thousands of water bottles were provided, a first aid tent was set up in a visible location and dozens of students guided visitors to their seats. All involved in putting on a successful ceremony deserve to be congratulated.

Students were fiercely committed to a ceremony on the Ellipse, leading to University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s February announcement that Commencement would not be moved to the new MCI Center. Though the recent rainy weather caused concern that a soggy ceremony could lie ahead, prayers were answered with a warm, sunny day.

While a ceremony at the MCI Center would have erased concerns about inclement weather, an event in the downtown sports arena could not have measured up to Sunday’s Commencement. The photographs taken this weekend with a Washington Monument backdrop are priceless and irreplaceable.

Next year, no questions should be raised about the best location for Commencement. The University cannot ignore what a majority of students want – a ceremony on the Ellipse. It sets GW apart from all other schools across the nation. It is something students and families in attendance Sunday will not soon forget.

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