The Daily Gamecock

Students unaware of Graduation Fair

Lack of communication causes confusion

Graduating students packed the Russell House Bookstore Tuesday evening, after many discovered late in the afternoon that it was the last day of the graduation fair and one of the last opportunities to purchase caps and gowns.

 Most students were unaware of the two-day graduation fair, and found out only through word-of-mouth and social media.

"I had no idea that I had to pick up my cap and gown today," said Severyn Mullen, a fourth-year geography student. "I heard some guy talking about it in the library and figured I better get down [to the bookstore]. If he hadn't been talking about it, I never would have known. An email from the university or the bookstore would've been nice."

According to manager Andy Shaffer, the bookstore sent notifications to the university and permanent student addresses, and it created a Facebook event.

The nursing, business and social work schools were a few of those that sent emails to students, and athletes were informed as well.

"We expected most of the schools to send out notifications to students," Shaffer said. "We also created a Facebook event on our page and posted it on the registrar, and notes were also sent to permanent addresses. A lot of parents have come in with those cards today."

Jasmine Johnson and Keisha Holmes are both receiving their master's degrees in social work in the spring and were surprised so many students were uninformed. Holmes received an email from the College of Social Work, while Johnson found out through friends and overheard conversations.

"I heard by word-of-mouth," Johnson said. "[Holmes] got an email from the social work school, but I didn't. It was all word-of-mouth from my friends. An email or notification from Russell House or the university would've been appreciated."

Robes were picked up and purchased at the same time so that preordering was not needed, but by the end of the fair the bookstore had sold out of the most popular gown sizes and were handing out order forms to awaiting students.

According to Shaffer, the combined crowd from Monday and Tuesday was higher than average by about 500 people, and the required quantity of robes were not stocked in store.

"This isn't the last grad fair, so there is no need for students to stress or panic," Shaffer said. "Our next fair will be after spring break on March 21 to 22, and students can pick up and buy their graduation items then. We normally have about 1,200 students at a grad fair and these past two days we've had 1,800, so the word has gotten out somehow. A lot of it is by word-of-mouth."

Even if students were informed of the grad fair, they were not necessarily told they had to pay at the time of pickup. Joe Dibetta, a fourth-year accounting student, received a notification from the Darla Moore School of Business, but was not told he needed the money the day he picked up the items.

"We have to pay for it now?" Dibetta asked. "Great. That would have been nice to know. They didn't say that in the email I got. Just great."

The Russell House Bookstore will be hosting the last graduation fair March 21 to 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for students who still need to purchase graduation paraphernalia or pick up orders.