Posted Friday, March 17, 3:46 p.m. The University answered two question marks about graduation Friday, announcing that it will definitely hold Commencement on the National Mall and it will host Monumental in Union Station.
Earlier this month, the National Park Service offered GW the use of the Ellipse for Commencement after it had previously said the site would be unavailable due to construction. GW had been planning on holding Commencement on the Mall, and decided it would stick with those plans. Commencement will be held May 21.
The future of Monumental was also in question, as University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg had said the graduation party, which has been waning in popularity in recent years, may be cancelled to offset the higher costs associated with the Commencement’s Mall site. The party will go forward at Union Station the night of May 20 at Union Station. The cost is $30 for students and $35 each for family and friends, a significant decrease from previous years’ parties. Last year, tickets cost $55 for students and $65 for guests. In 2004, the gala cost $60 for students and $70 for everyone else.
The University also announced that in the event of severe weather, the University hopes to use the Verizon Center, previously called the MCI Center, as an alternate Commencement site. Because the site’s availability is dependent on how far the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals advance in the playoffs, the site is not a definite backup as of now. The University hopes to receive a definitive answer on the alternate site’s use in early May.
If the Verizon Center is not available, the school’s other backup plan is a ceremony in the 5,000-seat Smith Center with video viewing areas across campus. More than 20,000 attended graduation each year.