Will graduation get rained out?

May 6, 2009 5:10:17 PM PDT
Rain is definitely a concern for North Carolina universities planning outdoor graduation ceremonies.Last year's commencement at UNC Chapel Hill left some grumbling about a drenching ceremony which was cut short. This year, Carolina says the ceremony on Mother's Day is more likely to go inside if there's threat of rain.

Last year's commencement was the first graduation ceremony in Kenan Stadium to endure rain.

"Thousands of people just sitting in the stands in the cold rain. It was really cold, too. So everybody was getting wet. Everybody was getting angry," recalled journalism student William Reide. "Literally, the Chancellor said, 'Okay it's raining. It's cold. So we're going to skip all of this. Skip all of this. Raise your hand if you are graduating from anything."

This year, there's a new chancellor with a new inclement weather plan in case of rain. The Smith Center - the Dean Dome - has always been the rainy-day venue, but this year, Carolina says it's more inclined to use it.

"I hear they're actually going to make a call on Saturday night," said Reide.

But the concern is the potential crowd size because the Kenan stadium seats 60,000 and the Dean Dome only seats 22,000.

Will some families get shut out?

"I think you're going to have some unhappy people, because they obviously came down to see their kids graduate. And they won't get that opportunity," said grad student Ryan Thompson.

So, Carolina is pleading with graduates to sign up for free rainy day tickets for four family members just in case rain pushes commencement indoors. And, many students have signed up.

"I think every other day I get an email from our class president which says, you need to get your tickets! You're not going to be able to go if you don't get your tickets," Reide explained.

but of course, some have not.

"Honestly, I haven't gotten an email about the tickets. So I don't know what the deal is there," said Thompson.

Organizers don't want to repeat a soaking wet ceremony, but they hope students take steps to make sure families do not get locked out in the rain.


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