The Stevens Institute of Technology will give $250 refunds to graduates after the school’s commencement ceremony turned into a chaotic mess due to bungled planning by administrators, the New Jersey university said.
Stevens President Nariman Farvardin apologized for the fact that graduating students were moved outside the Newark Symphony Hall last Wednesday when the venue became overcrowded, drawing the ire of family members who were allowed to stay instead.
With the students – from the School of Engineering and Science and the School of Systems and Enterprises – notably missing out on the speeches from their educators, the ceremony devolved into a “chaotic experience,” Farvardin admitted.
The overcrowding occurred as a result of a “ticket scanning” failure that issued more tickets than the university was prepared to handle inside the venue.
As speakers were brought on stage, video of the ceremony showed the crowd booing and heckling the officials and alumni, demanding that the students be brought in. Many also called out the speeches for addressing students despite them not being present.
“Commencement is a day that can never be recaptured. We sincerely regret that this joyous occasion was not what it should have been,” Farvardin said in a statement.
“While this gesture does not make up for the irreplaceable moments that were missed, we hope that graduates and their families will accept our acknowledgement of our mistakes and our promise to do better,” he added about the $250 refund.
The graduation ceremony grew heated when the crowds began booing at Anthony Barrese, the interim dean of the School of Systems and Enterprises, who was shown in the video confronting the jeers.
Although Barrese apologized for the incident, he still insisted he be allowed to make his speech.
“So first, let me just stay… you know that we want to do the best for the students. You know we do, and this situation,” Barrese says before he’s cut off by the crowd’s yelling. “Let me let me proceed.”
The keynote speaker, whose full name could not be heard over the crowd, spoke for less than two minutes as he bickered with the hecklers over the situation, ensuring that his speech is actually meant for the parents, not the missing students.
The hectic ceremony saw some semblance of order when the students were finally called to enter the building and accept their diplomas from the apologetic educators.
Along with the refund, the university said that it plans to conduct a full investigation as to what went wrong that day and made a “promise to do better” so the error doesn’t repeat itself.
Farvardin added that the university has also parted ways with David Zimmerman, the school’s former executive director of university events, who “demonstrated a complete lack of effective planning and a failure to respond to problems as they occurred.”
Zimmerman did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.
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