An integral part of the GW experience for any student is the utilization of District resources that highlight the unique nature and location of the University. Commencement on the Ellipse has become a cherished tradition for GW undergraduates and graduate students. Unfortunately, due to construction on the Ellipse scheduled by the National Park Service, the Ellipse is not available for Commencement 2006.
A natural reaction for seniors looking forward to their day of accomplishment sandwiched between the White House and the Washington Monument is one of outrage at the National Park Service and at the University. This, however, is not a University-initiated problem. GW has known for some time that parts of the Ellipse could be closed for construction during this year’s Commencement. In a letter dated Sept. 9, the National Park Service officially informed the University of the total closure of the venue.
Students need to resist the inclination to complain about this setback and instead come together to work toward securing alternate, but equally prestigious, locations for Commencement.
One location commensurate with the prestige of the Ellipse is the National Mall. A ceremony could be held at one end of the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial with chairs lining the reflecting pool. Commencement at the site of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech would remind graduates that they are inheriting a world in need of their talents.
No matter where Commencement is held, GW can do better than the MCI Center or RFK stadium. A Commencement venue should be close to the University, in an open green space and within view of the monuments. Already a site that GW is pursuing, the National Mall is the only suitable location to replace the Ellipse. The University should do everything in its power to secure this location for the class of 2006.