West Chester University (WCU) responded to student concerns after canceling its graduation ceremony on Saturday. WCU will host another ceremony so that students who didn't get a chance to walk across the stage to receive their diploma will be able to do so.
The stormy Saturday weather interrupted a picture-perfect moment for WCU business school graduates and their families. The wind knocked down a speaker as senior Gabrielle Saitto stood in line to get her diploma Saturday afternoon. Eventhough the Kennett Square native didn't want to walk, she decided to do so for her family.
Saitto's mother Betsy Ballard heard a voice from the podium say, "Sorry, due to weather graduation has been canceled and it's over."
"It was frustrating I didn't get to experience walking across the stage, cheering for my friends that I had been in classes with for years," Saitto said. "It felt like a lot of poor planning on the university's part to not to take into account the weather that had showed on the radar and the weather reports that it was coming."
After four years of college study at West Chester University, 200 business graduates were supposed to end it all with a graduation ceremony. It's a tradition for most college graduates -- with a cap and gown and family and friends looking on as one walks across the stage to receive a diploma.
"They are kind of dismissing two hundred kids and what was supposed to be their big day," said Ballard.
Mary Missanelli felt a sense of panic watching her daughter Susan's graduation day cut short. The family returned to campus Sunday to take graduation photos.
WCU responded to the concerns expressed by graduates and their families Monday morning and issued the following statement:
"On behalf of the West Chester University community we regret that the sudden severe weather on Saturday caused us to stop the afternoon commencement ceremony before all of our graduates could cross the stage and receive their diplomas.
While we were aware that weather forecasts predicted inclement weather on Saturday, it was our understanding that the rain would hold off until later in the afternoon. As a result, the University made the decision to move up the ceremonies to 9:00 am and 1:30 pm (from 10 and 3 p.m. respectively) to avoid the weather and ensure that all family and friends could attend the ceremonies.
If we had moved the ceremony indoors, each graduate would have been limited to just two guests. While it was indeed unfortunate that the bad weather arrived earlier than expected, the decision to stop the ceremony was made to ensure the safety of everyone involved."
Although the scheduled graduation ceremony was cut short, WCU planned an alternative ceremony. On Monday, officials with the university announced that the new ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 15.