Facebook was recently flooded with students sharing their great dissatisfaction with Rider. Their anger came as a result of the announcement that the Rider University 2017 Commencement would be moved to the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton. The reasons cited were security of seating, safety from inclement weather and a lower cost for the ceremony. The graduate, college of continuing studies and undergraduate ceremonies will be held together as well.
Immediately after the email was sent out to students, many made their anger clear. There was a tradition of graduating at Rider, crossing the campus green and touching the Rider Rock, just as we did as freshmen. To many, this is just another reason to complain about change. However, I see the real complications with this move.
When graduation was at Rider, the danger of unsafe and poor health conditions were never an issue. The traditions were the most important part of the entire ceremony. Every school paraded behind their flag in and out of the ceremony, tapping the Rider Rock as a mirror of our first days on campus. There were speeches and honors, all overlooking our Centennial Lake. It was picturesque and magical.
Growing up, I was a Pop Warner and All Star cheerleader, later making my transition to a Pop Warner and American Youth cheerleading coach. I spent many weekends in the Sovereign Bank Arena, which has now been renamed Sun National Bank Center. I have seen the horrors and conditions of this arena, and I do not believe that this is a good representation of Rider University and our values.
I have seen repulsive conditions. I have found dead rats in the stairwells, cockroaches in the bathrooms and mystery stains throughout. The color scheme is industrial, with a mix of dirt and grime.
The stairs inside the arena are steep, transitioning from cement to metal. The latter, in some rows, are wobbly. I have fallen, and have seen people fall. If able-bodied adults and athletes are falling, what about the elderly or those with mobility issues? With the large crowds, a fall is inevitable.
This is a very personal issue for myself as well, seeing as I have three individuals that would be coming to my graduation that would need special accommodations.
Though I am all for saving money on setting up two graduations, the true cost is losing the tradition of crossing the campus green. I worked both graduations last year, operating one of the cameras that saved the memories for these graduates and their families for years to come. I got to experience the magic and joy, and now that it’s my turn, it’s disheartening to think that my graduation will be spent under artificial lights, breathing stale air, and standing on a stain of God-knows-what.
Senior communication studies major
Printed in the 09/28/16 issue.