Graduation to begin limited ticketing process

Students limited to four commencement ceremony tickets


Contributed by Winona State University

A view from behind shows a graduating class during commencement, due to the new limited seating, graduation ceremonies will have ticketed seating with roughly four seats guaranteed for each graduating senior.

Morgan Reddekopp, Editor-in-Chief

This year a ticketing process will be introduced to the graduates, their families and friends.

In the past, Winona State University students were not limited in how many personal guests could come to commencement. Now, each student will be given four tickets to distribute to loved ones before the ceremony.

The new limit on the number of guests is a result of McCown Gym shrinking by about a fifth in order to provide a practicing space for the Winona State gymnastics team, as their last practice space was located in Wabasha Recreation Center, which was torn down for the Education Village.

President Olson said with the Wabasha Recreation Center being torn down, the gymnastics team was “homeless” and needed a place to practice that was a proportionate, respectable facility and in compliance with Title IX.

“What we came up with is McCown Gym, which is pretty long. We felt that the best place to put [the gymnastics team], and we looked at a lot of options, was at the end of [the gym],” Olson said.

To give the gymnastics team their practice space, a wall was built in McCown, dividing off a fifth of the gym to be used for gymnastics events.

“We basically put a wall up and divided off a section that is basically the size of a basketball court, and created a space that would be frankly better than what they had before,” Olson said.

The wall was built discreetly in a way that many people didn’t even notice it, according to Olson.

“The wall goes floor to ceiling and was done so beautifully well that I think a lot of people walked in and hadn’t realized that it had even happened. [The gym] is almost better proportioned now,” Olson said.

Although the gymnastics team has a new practice space, the area in which commencement takes place in is now a fifth smaller.

“The problem that is caused is that now all of a sudden, the area where we do commencement just got a fifth smaller,” Olson said. “The extra space [in the past] allowed for a platform for students to walk across and also offered more room for an orchestra and extra seating.”

Archived Photo
A picture of McCown Gymnasium before its recent renovations closed off the back portion of the space to house a practice area for the gymnastics team, whose previous location was in Wabasha Hall. Due to the smaller space, future graduation ceremonies will have limited, ticketed seating.

Olson brought this news to Student Senate on Feb. 20.

President of Winona State’s Student Senate, Christina Melecio, described that portion of the meeting.

“What we were told was that they were trying to keep up with some of the Title IX regulations and making sure the gymnastics team had somewhere to practice, so they cut the gym down by a fifth,” Melecio said. “Now, they just don’t have the room to allow everybody in [to commencement].”

Melecio admitted when she initially heard the news, she was frustrated as she will be graduating this spring.

“First, I was just frustrated because I have a big family. My immediate family is five additional people and we always include my grandma, so that’s six people that I needed tickets for,” Melecio said.

Melecio said she has non-family members who wanted to attend, such as her godparents and her roommates.

After Student Senate was informed of why these changed were occurring, Melecio became less frustrated with the situation.

“Like everything, you just have to talk about it and figure out why,” Melecio said. “Once I had the conversation with President Olson and he explained to us that it wasn’t a new thing just because they wanted to do a ticketing process and try it out, it is because there isn’t room, it made more sense and it was less frustrating to hear.”

There is a process online for graduating seniors to request more tickets to commencement for their family members.

The day to request additional tickets online was Monday, March 18. Students were able to go online through a link sent to them and fill out a request form online.

“It was super easy, I just clicked on the link and it asked me how many additional tickets I needed to request,” Melecio said.

Melecio is currently unsure of how the tickets will be distributed through the additional request system but said she thinks it will be on a ‘first come, first serve’ type basis.

Another topic discussed during the Student Senate meeting was the idea of building a field house. It would be used for indoor sports and if built, could potentially be used for future commencement ceremonies.

“We are exploring the idea with students and seeing if they think it’s a good idea or not,” Olson said.

Questions were brought up as to whether students would see a use to it, as the primary purpose would not be commencement, but “year-round recreation opportunities.” If built, the field house could include a multi-lane track and a field that could be used to play various sports.

The field house is only a future possibility, so it was decided that for now a ticketing system would be implemented for commencement.

“It seemed equitable to say ‘Everybody gets four tickets,’ and there’s a process to get more if needed. That’s what we came up with,” Olson said. “We’ve never done that before, so we will have to see how it works out.”

Officials at Winona State are doing their best to make sure that everybody is informed of these changes.

“We are doing our best to make sure everybody is informed. We ask students to make sure that their family members are knowledgeable of this,” Olson said.

For family members of the graduating students who will not fit in McCown Gym, there will be overflow seating in the Performing Arts Center and Somsen Auditorium. They will be able to watch the commencement ceremony from a screen.

Contributed by Winona State University
Because of limited space and seating, commencement ceremonies going forward will have ticketed seating and will provide a set number of seats for each graduating senior.