Tandon relents, students to walk at graduation

Administrators at NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering reversed changes to the school’s graduation ceremony that would have eliminated the traditional walk across the stage due to time constraints.


Bela Kirpalani

File photo: Graduates pose for photos with friends and family outside the Barclays Center after Tandon’s 2018 graduation ceremony. (Bela Kirpalani for WSN)

Adrianna Nehme, Deputy News Editor

Last week, NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering said it would allow students to walk on stage to collect their diplomas at graduation, reversing an unpopular decision to eliminate the tradition that led to over a month of student complaints. Administrators had previously informed students that the school would simply read their names and display their photographs on the Barclays Center jumbotron due to time constraints.

In order to allocate enough time for every student to walk, the Tandon graduation ceremony will now begin at 8:30 a.m., a half-hour earlier than originally planned, according to an April 10 memo from Tandon dean Jelena Kovačević. Last year, the school’s ceremony lasted over six hours as 2,067 graduates walked across the stage. This year, the number of graduates is more than 3,000.

Despite the lengthy ceremony, many students say they see walking across the stage as an important aspect of the event. Tandon senior Raihana Sultana said she prefers a longer graduation ceremony over the school’s initial proposition.

“There’s no point in going to graduation if I’m not even able to walk,” Sultana said. “It’s a different feeling entirely, rather than just sitting down and taking a picture of your picture on the board.”

In February, students at the school started a petition demanding that graduates be allowed to walk during their ceremony that garnered over 1,700 signatures. It prompted Tandon administrators to announce a town hall event on April 5, during which Kovačević, the dean, said that she understands the students’ grievances.

“You don’t want to not enjoy your own graduation day because one element is missing,” Kovačević said at the town hall. “It pains me that you are in pain.”

Other schools at NYU, such as the College of Arts & Science, have long abandoned the practice of students walking at graduation. The CAS ceremony at Radio City Music Hall instead includes a display of over 2,400 student-submitted photos on a video wall. CAS dean Wendy Suzuki said the slideshow format allows students to better express themselves.

“Students are now submitting a wonderfully creative array of photos and even original sketches, many featuring friends, family, romantic partners and pets,” Suzuki said. “We’re happy that the reaction to these additions — which have made the event more personable and memorable — has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Tandon senior Jerry Aska said that he is cautiously optimistic about the school’s recent decision, noting that plans for the ceremony are not yet set in stone. To support students’ advocacy efforts, Aska created various email templates for students to send to administrators, including Kovačević and President Andrew Hamilton.

“In high school, I had a history teacher who would always say that engineers don’t really fight for things,” Aska said. “It was nice to see us engineers fight for something that created change.”

Contact Adrianna Nehme at [email protected].