By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief
A proposal to allow multicultural graduation stoles was not approved this year, but the president’s cabinet has opened a discussion to approve a new classification of co-curricular stoles that could lead to multicultural stoles and other non-academic focused stoles at future graduations.
Previously, the only stoles that could be approved for commencement had to be affiliated with nationally recognized organizations and have an academic requirement. The commencement committee recommended the change in policy to the cabinet after it met on Monday.
The reason the policy change could not be approved for this year, committee co-chair Scott Mudloff said, was because the university did not have time to coordinate with its Colorado and Dodge City campuses.
“What they would like is a review of this and more work to be done over the summer or next year so this policy or a version of this policy could be developed for next year’s commencement ceremony to be implemented,” Mudloff said.
The stoles were part of a proposal submitted by senior Annie Dang in November, which also included a request for a multicultural graduation reception. Dang said the purpose of her proposal was to celebrate diversity and triumph over adversity.
“I feel a little bit of bittersweetness because we submitted this proposal in November and I feel like had things gone according to plan, it could've happened this year,” Dang said. “But I understand their decision, and I am happy that it got passed at all. And now every student after me will be able to benefit from the change and be bestowed the honor of the stole.”
Dang’s proposal was initially denied in its entirety by the cabinet in March at the recommendation of the commencement committee, but the cabinet reversed its decision on the reception two weeks later. Until Monday, the possibility of stoles remained an open question.
The decision on stoles came after Dang and SGA President-elect Thao Nguyen presented their arguments in favor of the stoles in front of the commencement committee at its final meeting on Monday. The meeting was originally scheduled for April 25 but was postponed.
At the meeting, Dang and Nguyen presented a petition of 127 signatures collected in the course of two days from students in support of the stoles.
Dang said in a previous interview that she wanted the stoles for this year’s graduation in particular because the class of 2019 had overseen the formation of several new diversity clubs on campus.
“We had a tough discussion and the commencement committee seemed very concerned, but they were also as interested as any of the students I talked to,” Dang said. “At points, there were tense moments because we didn't all agree.”
Dean of Students Christine Schneikart-Luebbe, who is on the commencement committee, said she was pleased with the ultimate outcome of introducing the policy change and is proud of the students who presented.
“Whether this gets approved or not, we are having important conversations and dialogue that is necessary… and I want Annie to take pride that she is at the core of that, as well as Thao,” she said.
PHOTO: SENIOR ANNIE DANG says she is disappointed that the multicultural graduation stoles will not be available for her gradua- tion this year but is hopeful students will be able to recieve the co-curricular honor next year. Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief