Written by Bwog Staff
Many of us think of Columbia as a nurturing mother, sheltering us from the vissicitudes of adult life. One Columbia senior expected her to protect us from the rain as well…and took PrezBo to task for failing in this final act of devotion. Her e-mail follows, with the administration’s response after the jump.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Columbia College Class Day
Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 10:35:26 -0400
From: ——[email protected]
Dear President Bollinger,
I am a CC ’05 graduate (whose Class Day was graced with beautiful
weather). I was appalled to hear that Columbia College, faced with bad
weather for the Class Day ceremony yesterday, was unable to come up with a
contingency plan to accommodate 1,100 undergraduates and instead allowed
them and their families to sit in driving rain for more than two hours.
Even under-funded public high schools do not ask their graduates to sit in
those kinds of conditions during commencement ceremonies. It is an
embarrassment that the University and the College were able to ask more
than $100,000 in tuition from each of the students sitting on that lawn
(and from their families who came to watch) but were not able to finance a
tent or a hall for CC students’ one opportunity to be recognized by name
for their four-year commitment to the institution.
Beyond convenience and comfort there are health issues – there were
elderly, frail, and unwell loved ones in the audience as well as students
with health concerns who were participating in the ceremony. A close
friend of mine in the class of 2006 has lupus and the ceremony brought on
an acute attack that has left her bedridden and unable to participate in
her own graduation festivities. It is not fair to ask students to choose
whether or not to participate in their own Class Day ceremony for reasons
of health or comfort – hopefully you appreciate the various symbolic and
emotional implications of completing the ceremony. Class Day is one of the
most important days in a graduate’s life and every member of the Class of
2006 will have blighted memories of their graduation ceremonies.
Perhaps the College and the University will consider taking measures to
ensure this doesn’t happen again in the future.
Thank you for your attention.
Columbia College ’05
—– Forwarded by ________________—–
Date: 05/23/2006 06:33 PM
Subject: FW: [Fwd: Columbia College Class Day]
Dear Ms. ——,
President Bollinger is currently traveling, so I am writing in response to your email to him regarding the College’s class day.
Unfortunately, there simply is no viable, indoor alternative for seating 1,000 graduates and their families on Columbia’s campus. We plan on being able to accommodate up to 5,000 guests, so that the graduating seniors may bring as many friends and family members as they would like.
In addition, the logistics necessary to be ready to welcome 33,000 people the next morning for the University Commencement ceremony do not allow us to tent South Lawn.
Dean Quigley, Dean Colombo, and their offices continue refining and improving Class Day to make it as enjoyable and as meaningful as possible for all participants. I will share your email with them, and I know that they would also welcome any ideas that you may have to continue making improvements.
Many thanks for your email.
Chief of Staff
Office of the President
202 Low Library, MC 4309
535 West 116 Street
New York, New York 10027