By Sheilagh Lichtenfels
Published: April 1st, 2017
Over 17,000 Brooklyn College students have applied to graduate since the school announced that Bernie Sanders would be delivering this year’s commencement speech. This is the highest number of attempted graduations in this school’s history, totaling almost exactly the number of undergraduates enrolled at the college.
Sanders, who attended Brooklyn College for one year and made a campaign stop on campus during his 2016 presidential bid, was a highly popular candidate among Brooklyn College students. Further investigation has revealed that his presence at commencement has prompted some students to undertake unorthodox methods in their attempts to graduate.
One undergraduate academic adviser stated, “A solid two-thirds of the applicants don’t nearly meet the requirements to graduate. They’re short credits; they haven’t completed their speech screenings; some haven’t even declared majors.”
Behind this strange phenomenon are thousands of underclassmen that simply applied on the off chance they would be allowed to attend commencement. “I’m a freshman,” said Frederick Julee, and undeclared second semester student who applied to graduate this spring. “I just want to see the speech.”
Julee added, “CUNYfirst is always glitching. I just thought maybe I’d be able to slip through, go to commencement, and then register for next semester. I realize it’s far-fetched, but so were the chances of getting Bernie for commencement.”
Some students decided to graduate this year strategically for the purposes of seeing Sanders speak.
Christopher Muckle, a senior, says he was in no rush to graduate until he found out about the commencement speaker. “I’ve been in undergrad for eight years,” said Muckle. “I’m majoring in accounting, operations management, philosophy, and Spanish. I was going to go for a Biology major as well but when I found out about Bernie, I decided this was my year.”
Brooklyn College announced that Sanders would be giving the address earlier this semester, to a massive student uproar on social media. So far, the reactions both on and off campus have been mixed. In particular, some Brooklyn College alumni have expressed displeasure at the school’s choice.
“I feel like I’m being punished for graduating on time,” said Kaitlin Horner, who graduated in 2016. “I feel cheated. I worked hard for four years thinking I was doing everything right. Now I realize if I had just stretched it to five years it would have been so much more worth it.”
Horner expressed that she has been furiously trying to acquire an extra commencement ticket since they went up for order on Monday.
As of today, extra commencement tickets have become a black market item on groups such as the popular Facebook group, Brooklyn College: In the Know. Tickets are on sale for upwards of $500.
“I’m spending more on extra commencement tickets than I do on textbooks,” said Lucia Santos, a senior. “But for Bernie, it’s worth it.”