Earlier this month, students graduating this May received an email from Provost Dr. Kyle Fedler telling them that they will be required to have tickets for the 2019 commencement ceremony.
This is a change that has come suddenly to many because graduation has always been general admission seating.
“We got the word mid-fall, I got a call from the RP Funding Center that they had been visited by the Lakeland Fire Marshall,” Fedler said. “Apparently there were some events last year that they did general admission seating and it got out of hand.”
Fedler said the RP Funding Center informed him that the venue had been overrun with people in the aisles and concourse during general admission events.
The RP Funding Center was also told that they had to get rid of the temporary seating that they had available because it was a fire hazard. Fedler said this caused them to originally lose about 1,000 seats, but the school was able to add back 500 of those seats by putting folding chairs behind the graduates.
“The Fire Marshall said you gotta have tickets for everybody that enters the arena,” Fedler said.
Each student will be allotted nine tickets for the graduation. Fedler said they determined the number of tickets each student would get by looking at the amount of graduates and the available seats and dividing them evenly throughout.
Even though the number of tickets each student is allotted was based on the number of graduates, Fedler says that the number will most likely not fluctuate from year to year.
“It depends, if we were to get another hundred graduate students at that point we might think of splitting them (undergraduates and graduates) up, but the problem is that it would be hard to run two (graduations) in one day,” Fedler said.
Ultimately, Fedler said if it got to the point where students were getting less than eight tickets, the school would start looking at making a change.
In the email that was sent to upcoming graduates, it said that there will be a website set up by the school to facilitate conversation between students that need more tickets and those who wish to donate their unused tickets.
Despite the school’s attempts to help students by facilitating ticket exchanges, some of them took to Twitter to voice their opinions on this change.
“Thanks @FLSouthern & LakelandFD for the inevitable fighting that will commence over acquiring enough tickets for graduation because you’ve now limited each grad to 9 tickets total for their friends and family to attend,” senior Meagan White, @meaganwhite_, tweeted. “Can’t wait to disappoint my loved ones.”
Other students don’t feel that the change is a big deal.
“I don’t care at all because there will only be three people from my family at graduation,” senior Catherine Cervone said. “I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal out of it when they specified in the email that there would be an exchange system in place.”
Students will be able to pick up their tickets at Branscomb Auditorium Box Office at a date that has yet to be determined.