College moves 2020 grads from PNC Bank Arts Center to small venue
JERSEY CITY — A New Jersey college is moving its graduation ceremony from the PNC Bank Arts Center back to a venue on campus that's considerably smaller — much to the disappointment of some soon-to-be graduates.
Saint Peter's University students got the news Friday in an an email, which said construction at the Monmouth County concert venue, along the Garden State Parkway in Holmdel was what forced the Monday, May 18 ceremony's relocation to the Victor R. Yanitelli, S.J. Recreational Life Center on the school's Jersey City campus.
The school's commencement committee had considered other options but determined that the recreational center "is the most suitable venue to ensure broad participation from students and their family and friends," according to a statement from the school.
The PNC Bank Arts Center, which is owned by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, has a capacity of over 17,000 audience members, while the recreational center can only accommodate 3,200, The downsized venue will limit the number of tickets each student can receive for loved ones who want to attend.
The Authority did not immediately return a message on Sunday morning asking about work being done at the venue. There are no other events publicly scheduled for the Arts Center until the summer concert season gets underway with Alice Cooper playing June 19.
“The RLC has the advantage of giving us total control of the venue. This will allow us to host an amazing event and our intent is to make this a very special day for all our graduates and their families," according to Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Frederick Bonato.
The decision was met with criticism by students on social media, including those commenting about an online petition aimed at trying to get the school to reconsider the decision.
"Saint Peter’s University is having their graduation in the gym!? I’ve never seen a university succeed so well in ruining the collegiate experience of their students," @justAMoment tweeted following a link to the petition.
"It’s the happiest days of these kids lives and they have to spend it on a basketball court, it’s also going to be such a hassle parking wise...what are they thinking," @the_thrillx3 tweeted.
The author of the petition, Saint Peters student Brenna Coates, told the Jersey Journal that the change of location for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony was "an embarrassment and a slap in the face."
Monmouth University also has held its commencement ceremonies in the past at the PNC Bank Arts Center, but has moved this year's to the school's own Kessler Stadium, according to the school's website. The on-campus stadium in West Long Branch has a capacity of 4,200.
Old Bridge High School, which held its 2019 commencement at the Arts Center, had not yet publicly announced a venue for its June 23 ceremony, according to the public school district calendar.
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