Some students get caps and gowns without getting degrees

If at any point in the semester someone were to ask a graduating senior at Florida A&M University the significance of Dec. 15, most would enthusiastically mention the commencement ceremony at the Tallahassee-Leon Civic Center.

While most students are anxious to turn in their final papers and walk across the graduation stage in their caps and gowns, some students will be in for a rude awakening. Some students are allowed to “walk” during graduation, but due to issues such as failed courses or not passing the CLAST, they do not receive their degrees.

Why are students allowed to walk, when they will be returning the next semester?

According to FAMU policy, seniors who have met all requirements during the semester that they applied and enrolled in their final set of classes will be allowed to walk. “At face value you have met all requirements except for those you are currently taking,” said Dr. Hudson Nwakanma, the School of Business & Industry’s assistant dean for academic affairs, “therefore we assume that you pass. However, after graduation we do a certification of those who will actually receive their diploma.”

It is this policy that has many students upset. As the semester comes to an end, excited seniors are making what they hope to be their last rounds around campus.  Many students say worrying about eligibility should be the least of their cares.”I have friends who had things like parking tickets, holds and tuition not get their diploma,” said Javard Grant, 22, a senior business administration student from Quincy. 

While these circumstances are typical reasons that may delay the receipt of a diploma, students are well aware of it before graduation day. However, the many students who are prepared to walk but must later return are inconvenienced more than anyone. 

“I think everyone should be able to walk but there should be a way for seniors to know beforehand whether or not they are graduating,” said graduating senior Jamal Collins, a business administration student from Montgomery, Ala.  He adds, “You don’t know until after the fact if you’re getting your diploma. Some people have finals the day of. By then family and friends are already here and it’s too late.”

It is those similar ideas that seniors believe the way they are informed if they will actually receive a diploma should be changed. Seniors Collins and Grant both had a similar consensus on when finals should be held altogether. 

“I think that we (seniors) should take our finals a little earlier, at least a week before graduation,” Grant said. 

He said that week would allow for final notifications as to whether a senior should be expecting to graduate in the upcoming ceremony; this way, unnecessary energy and money is not put into an event that will be repeated the following semester.