Officials drop paper tickets for Commencement next month

Media Credit: File Photo by Olivia Anderson | Photo Editor

Students will no longer have to bring a physical ticket to this year's Commencement ceremony.

When students and their families arrive at the National Mall for Commencement next month, they won’t need to bring a physical ticket.

Officials said they will replace printed tickets at Commencement May 19 with an online form that students can use to register up to six guests ages 2 or older. The new system will eliminate the cost of printing tickets and the possibility that guests lose their physical tickets, officials said.

“Based on attendees’ feedback from past ceremonies, officials hope to eliminate the frustrations that some attendees have experienced,” University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said.

Csellar said officials will make the roughly 20,000 seats at Commencement available to guests on a first come, first served basis, except for the reserved seating area. She added that additional standing room will be available.

“Commencement staff will do their best to accommodate seating for all graduating students’ guests,” she said. “However, seating cannot be guaranteed.”

Csellar said five commencement events will also use digital tickets instead of printed ones this year: the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science doctoral hooding ceremonies, the School of Nursing celebration, the Phi Beta Kappa Induction ceremony and the School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Health Sciences graduation celebrations.

She added that students will receive a one-time access code to retrieve their tickets on the digital ticketing system, reducing the possibility of identity theft or trespassing at the ceremony and prohibiting codes from being shared after use.

In interviews, 10 students said switching to digital tickets will cut down on the number of items graduates need to pick up before the ceremony.

Sarah Hampton, a senior studying international affairs, said digital tickets reduce the number of graduation-related items, like gowns and cords, that students have to remember to pick up before the ceremony.

“For all the different subset graduations, I have to leave my job to pick up the tickets, and I know other seniors in similar positions where they have to work around work schedules or class schedules and different events we have,” Hampton said. “So having a digital ticket definitely makes things easier on us.”

Officials said students will be able to print a “souvenir” or “commemorative ticket” following the ceremony. Sarah Pohl, a senior studying public health, said she appreciates that she will still be able to have a physical ticket as a keepsake for graduation.

“There are other things that I could replace, like my cap and gown,” she said. “But it’s nice to have a small ticket that you can put in a scrap box or memory box that you can have as memorabilia for graduation.”

Peak Sen Chua, a senior studying public health and political science, said the new process will require students to be diligent about bringing their digital ticket with them on a charged electronic device.

“The good thing about going online, it’s just getting the confirmation and saving it on your phone,” Chua said. “And the only thing you need to plan for it is charging your phone the night before and bringing a power bank, making sure the battery is holding a charge by the time you get to the ceremony.”

Julianne Giarrantano, a senior majoring in accounting, said that although getting an e-ticket “will be easier,” officials should better communicate changes to commencement ceremonies, like through the use of online registration and digital ticketing.

“I just found out about it, so I would say one thing – GW just needs to be more coordinated with Commencement in general,” she said. “We have had such a lack of information, and I think a lot of graduating seniors are confused and don’t know what’s going on.”

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