Graduation ceremony cost elicits student disapproval

Expensive graduation ceremony fees are the newest topic of SF State intrigue in the Bay Area news scene after the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story April 1, that a family of five in the psychology department would need to pay $425, or $85 per person to attend graduation.

The Chronicle reported the outrage started when psychology major Lea Lunden created a petition against the department’s graduation ceremony for an expensive yacht outing. The petition was signed by over 100 psychology students who said they couldn’t afford to have their families attend their graduation at that high a ticket price.

Though The Chronicle reported that Lunden presented a petition against the ceremony, Lunden told Xpress it was actually intended to be a survey featuring personal stories from students to help convince the department to have a cheaper ceremony.

More than 40 students gave personal stories attesting to their struggles with affording the yacht ceremony. Lunden provided a copy of the survey to Xpress.

Lunden also tried to organize an alternative graduation event herself, and was told by a professor to write an apology for it.

Lunden is the president of the SF State chapter of Psi Chi, an international honors society for psychology. “Yeah I’ve definetly gotten some negative blowback from it,” said Lunden. “But if I’m not going to say it, no one else is.”

Lunden’s father was similarly outraged. “It seems that the department is attempting to tailor their graduation recognition ceremony to only allow the more socially wealthy individuals,” wrote William Lunden, an electrician, to The Chronicle.

The graduation ceremony debacle comes right on the heels of news on SF State’s graduation rate, where internal university data showed that of incoming freshmen in 2006, 47 percent took six years to graduate. Now, not only will it take years on end to graduate, but some students won’t even be able to afford to go to their own ceremonies.