Seniors lament changes made to beloved tradition
By Michelle Pellegrino
Senior Week, a regular tradition at Rider hosted to give a final sendoff to those graduating, has been moved to the week before finals, causing many seniors to express a resounding feeling of disappointment with these changes. Previously, it had been held after finals have ended.
“I was expecting to have one like right before graduation because that’s what they’ve had in the past,” said senior elementary education major Angela Rizzo regarding Senior Week.
According to an email sent to Rider students on April 5, 2022 from Associate Dean of Campus Life Nicholas Barbati, last year’s Senior Week took place between final exams and graduation and included events like a trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey, a senior celebration kick-off at the pub, a barbeque, a senior brunch and, of course, Senior Ball. Seniors were also allowed to stay on campus an extra week, giving them one last hurrah to their college experience.
Barbati explained that a multitude of reasons resulted in the decision, including lack of interest and expenses, but came down to changes in the layout of the 2022-2023 academic calendar.
“It just didn’t seem like it was really in the best interest of our students,” said Barbati. “We wanted to capture the students at the time in which they would be most excited to … participate in senior activities, which is why we’re introducing them the week prior now.”
Barbati said that if they kept Senior Week for after finals, seniors would be on campus for eight days after the last testing day and explained that it seemed excessive.
“The senior class counsel and I were really trying to figure out what would be best for the students given the timeline,” said Barbati.
Although he said there hasn’t been any complaints, some seniors are still upset with the decision to move Senior Week to before finals, due to many events being held during the last week of classes and the weekend before final exams.
“I was disappointed because a lot of the events were during the week when I had class or I have other things going on already,” said Rizzo.
Vice chair of the senior class and healthcare policy major Katy Timari said that she, along with Barbati and senior class chair Lindsay Clarke, had some fears about not being able to provide a Senior Week this year. They listed a lack of attendance and students’ unwillingness to pay additional fees for activities as reasons why the decision was made to skip it. Instead, they decided to hold more events throughout the semester.
“We held it throughout the course of the semester so that way we could pull from different funding in order to be able to have events that were free for people to go to,” said Timari. “We had a tailgating event at the pub prior to one of our basketball games in February, this upcoming Friday, we are having Last Call at the pub … and then we’re also having our Senior Ball.”
According to Barbati’s April 5 email, students who wished to participate in all of the Senior Week events last year had to pay a fee of $140, or a total of $200 if they also wished to bring a guest to Senior Ball. Tickets to the ball were included in this package and were also offered separately at $60 a ticket for seniors who did not want the entire event package.
By pulling funding from different sources in order to have events throughout the semester, seniors were spared an additional charge of $80 to participate in Senior Week. However, even this decision that takes into account students’ financial situations isn’t without its consequences.
“There are people who went on the semester in LA trip who weren’t here throughout the semester,” Rizzo pointed out. “It’s difficult for those people to be fully involved as well when the events are spread out throughout the year.”
When asked how she feels about not having a Senior Week as a senior herself, Timari responded, “It’s a little bit sad that it isn’t like a week at the end of the school year, but again, we do really have a lot of really fun events that have been provided.”
Senior film and television major Karl Stever shared similar feelings.
“I think it’s cool that we get to have a Senior Ball and some fun senior events. I guess it does suck to some extent that we can’t have a week dedicated to us, but it is what it is,” said Stever. “I think that we should be grateful for the events that we do have, you know? I’m sure that a lot of people would be upset if we didn’t have the ball or other events for the seniors.”
While Rizzo recognized the hard work that was put into these events and their organizers’ sensitivity to students’ financial situations, she also expressed how the COVID-19 pandemic added to her disappointment.
“Our class of 2023 missed out on half of our spring semester in person our freshman year, we missed out on a sophomore year in person, and then our junior year was, like, masks,” said Rizzo. “So this senior year was like our first fully in-person year, so I thought [Senior Week] would be a great way to celebrate what we’ve gone through and how far we’ve come.”
Amethyst Martinez contributed to the reporting for this story.