Commencement often involves many layers of planning for administrators and students, covering everything from travel to seating and dining arrangements. The actual cost for Sunday’s ceremony will approach $500,000 for Ohio State, and the planning this year also includes a change in seating and informing visitors of the mumps outbreak on and around campus.
The budget for the 2014 commencement ceremony is set to be $475,000 and about 10,000 students are expected to graduate, said university spokeswoman Amy Murray.
“Expenses include things like diploma printing, transportation and parking, public safety, Facilities Operation and Design (for stadium setup),” Murray said in an email.
Jenny Brace, a fourth-year in speech and hearing science set to graduate in the ceremony, said she thought the budget was high.
“It seems like kind of a lot just for a ceremony,” she said.
Ashley Wise, a fourth-year in computer science and engineering, said she also thought the price sounded high.
“I know it’s in the stadium and I think a lot of that cost would go toward operating the stadium but considering there doesn’t seem like a lot of other activities going on, that seems high to me,” she said.
The cost is expected to be similar to the 2012 ceremony but less than last year’s ceremony when President Barack Obama was the keynote speaker. Murray did not provide the cost for that commencement ceremony.
Last year’s ceremony was more expensive because of “costs associated with the president’s visit that we did not experience in 2012 and will not this year,” Murray said.
The budget for Spring Commencement 2012 was about $431,000 and more than 10,600 degrees were distributed, Murray said.
Last year, students sat on the field instead of the stands because Ohio Stadium was undergoing renovations.
“Last year was not an average commencement. There were changes in seating, necessitated by ongoing stadium maintenance work underway that affected seating in the north end of the stadium,” Murray said. “That work has been completed and graduates will again sit in the stands.”
Wise said she would have enjoyed sitting on the field.
“I like the idea of sitting on the field because it separates the graduates in such a large graduating class where we already don’t get the moment of recognition when we walk across the stands,” she said.
After an outbreak of mumps in Columbus, concerns have also been raised about visitors coming to campus for the ceremony.
Visitors are encouraged to cover their mouths, wash hands frequently and avoid sharing food, drinks or close contact with anyone who appears ill.
Mumps is a viral infection of the salivary glands, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. It can spread through coughing, sneezing or contact with saliva or mucus.
According to the CDC website, the disease can be carried without any symptoms.
Those who are affected by mumps might have swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears or jaw on the side of the face, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite and inflammation of the testicles in men, according to the CDC. The website also says there is no specific treatment for mumps, but it is usually gone in a week or two.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 295 mumps cases were linked to the outbreak in Franklin and Delaware counties. Of those, 176 cases were linked to the OSU outbreak, according to Columbus Public Health.
Brace said she wasn’t concerned with catching the mumps despite the large gathering of people.
“I’ve been vaccinated so I guess I’m not really worried about it, but for those who aren’t, I can see why it’s a concern,” she said.
Wise agreed that she wasn’t very concerned about catching the mumps at graduation.
“I called my doctor to make sure I had my mumps vaccine and I think that’s all I can do personally. I don’t think that needs to be a concern,” Wise said. “I would hope (anyone affected) wouldn’t come to commencement.”
Commencement is set for May 4 at noon.