To the editor:
Preserving the tradition of Final Exercises on the Lawn should be a paramount consideration. Any other school in the country can graduate in a football stadium — only as students at the University do we have the honor of honors of graduating on the Lawn. Having video cameras on the route to the stadium doesn’t adequately preserve the experience guests have of being able to watch a loved one walk the Lawn. Especially for guests who are alumni, it is a special experience to be able to see your student take the same walk you did during your time at Virginia.
I would also like to point out that, on my display at least, the Scott Stadium option is put first and only includes in its description the points that are likely to be most attractive about that option (e.g. unlimited seating and concession access). The other two, in contrast, highlight only the potential disadvantages of the more traditional options (e.g. limited seating and longer run time). It’s a blatant attempt at influencing the ranking process, or at least seems to be. I find that impression exceedingly distasteful.
Moving Final Exercises off the Lawn also undermines Thomas Jefferson’s original vision of the Lawn as the center of the University. It was an amazing and powerful sense of symmetry to both begin (at Convocation) and end (at Final Exercises) my time as an undergraduate on the Lawn in the shadow of the Rotunda. The University always strives to emphasize its connection to its unique history, and if we aren’t even willing to make sacrifices to preserve the place of the Lawn as the heart of the university, that opens the door dangerously wide. Just walking across green space on route to a football stadium is not the same as processing with your friends as your family and loved ones look on and sitting on the Lawn, the center of the University, to reflect on your time here. It’s an extreme departure from one of the most defining traditions of our school. To me, it’s an intolerable one.