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Upcoming Graduates Left in the Dark

By Ranim Hadid

LAU Tribune staff

Courtesy of LAU MARCOM Office

Ramzi Khaled, business senior, approached the registrar’s window and asked about graduation, complaining that he is completely in the dark. “I don’t understand how we are at the end of the semester yet graduating students are still confused about how to prepare for the ceremonies,” he said.

Every year, during the first week of July, graduation ceremonies are held in Beirut and Byblos. When friends on both campuses meet for an afternoon conversation, seniors tend to bring up the topic draining their minds: Graduation.

This year, the ceremonies will take place on July 7 and 8.

After conducting a survey of over 150 graduating students, it became clear to me how clueless most students are about graduation procedures. Since the start of the spring semester, the only emails sent out to seniors were about honor awards and the alumni membership.

“I’m supposed to be graduating this semester,” Mohamad Jammal, international business major said. “If I hadn’t sent the dean a private email, I probably wouldn’t have known that the business ceremony is on the 8th of July.”

Jammal considers himself an active student. “I check my web mail, it’s not like I’ve kept myself in the dark on purpose,” he said. “They expect us to know things that should be told to us.”

This year, 492 students will graduate from the school of arts & science, the school of architecture and from masters programs. On July 8, approximately 769 students will graduate from the school of business.

In Byblos, over 500 students will graduate and only one ceremony will be held. Yet students have already scheduled their graduation photos and have been involved in the process from the beginning of the semester.

Firas Abboud, a telecommunication engineering major, couldn’t be more excited. “We’ve been receiving emails from the start of the semester. They keep the student involved in almost every step,” he said.

One of the reasons Abboud is so excited to graduate is the support he has received from Byblos. “We’ve attended seminars about how to prepare and what to do next. They’re constantly working on keeping us focused,” he said.

Mars Semaan, dean of students for the Byblos campus, told the Tribune he has been meeting with students on a weekly basis since the start of the semester to prepare for the ceremonies.

Semaan explained that the reason behind such diligence is the change of the graduation ceremony’s location. “The commencement is the most important event that we cater, so we normally do this to avoid mishaps,” he said.

The Byblos campus has already prepared most of the activities students take part in before graduation. “We are now in the mode of waiting to get things back so we can decide what we’re going to do,” he said.

Semaan said the Beirut campus ceremonies are much easier to prepare for than those in Byblos. “In Beirut, it’s the same way and they know exactly how it is done,” he said.

And yet, most senior students in Beirut are in the dark.

Natalia Elmani, journalism major, will graduate this spring. “After speaking to my friends in Byblos, I discovered that they are far more involved in their ceremonies than we are,” she said.

For Elmani, the bigger the graduation, the more preparation it needs. “I don’t understand how there are over 1,000 students in Beirut and two ceremonies and yet we haven’t heard a thing about it,” she said.

Raed Mohsen, Beirut’s dean of students, points out that the guidance office is following the same schedule from last year. “Last year’s ceremony was a perfect commencement, so we are following the same procedures we did last year,” he said.

Mohsen urged students not to worry about logistics, as “everything is available on the website and there is a lot of time to prepare for graduation.”

“Graduation anxiety is normal feeling to have, but everything is under control,” he said.

According to Mohsen, all planning and preparation for the ceremonies is completed. “Logistically, we can have the commencement next week. Everything is already done,” he said.

A form to be filled out about commencement exercises has been posted on LAU’s website, yet students did not receive emails about it. The form must be submitted to the registrar’s office by June 15.

Yet students complain. “Why can’t they just send us an email and tell us brief details about the graduation ceremonies?” A student who wants to remain anonymous asked. “They are ready to overload our inboxes with so many unnecessary emails but they can’t send us an email telling us when our graduation is?”

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About LAU Tribune

The official student newspaper at the Lebanese American University

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