Brooklyn, NY, – Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) urged Baruch College President Mitchel Wallerstein to “do the right thing,” strongly encouraging the president to reconsider the Spring 2016 graduation time slated for 5 p.m. on Friday, May 27th at Barclays Center. Hikind, who wrote to the president of the college regarding this matter, received a response a week ago stating that the time and date of spring commencement would remain as is.
“To deprive students and their families of this once-in-a-lifetime joy and celebration is unconscionable,” Hikind said after reading the letter. “What kind of message does the school send to its Jewish students and their families by keeping the time as is?”
Renée Shemesh, a recent graduate of Baruch College who graduated in January but will walk and celebrate her graduation in the spring, started a petition to change the time or date of commencement after her personal request was declined by the president. Since starting the petition, over 400 students have signed on in just a matter of hours, and the number continues to grow. One Baruch student, Zeke Dwek, reached out to Hikind’s office to voice his frustration. “I think it’s ridiculous that I can’t go to my own graduation. Baruch prides itself in being one of the most diverse schools, so to not change the time would be very culturally insensitive.”
More alarming was Baruch College’s response to the time constraint of Shabbos observance on the day of graduation: “We also did research on the official time of sunset at that time of the year, and we determined that, because of daylight savings time, the sun will not set until 8:19 p.m.” To clarify, while the sun sets at 8:19 p.m., Shabbos begins at 7:57 p.m. on May 27th—nearly 30 minutes earlier than sundown.
“This is about doing what is right. It’s about making sure everyone is capable of enjoying such an amazing experience. It’s a complete injustice to the Jewish students, friends and families that will be forced to either leave the ceremony early or not attend. I strongly urge the president reconsider altering the time or date to resolve this dilemma.”