Include On Campus Transition Students in UNF's Commencement Ceremonies

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At the University of North Florida, our On Campus Transition program has provided many incredible opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Outside of their ability to audit classes of their choosing, they have learned how to be proactive members of our community among several other skills. Much like their neurotypical peers, our OCT students leave UNF with hundreds of memories, life lessons, a valuable education, and so much more. UNF’s OCT program has paved the way for nearly all Florida transition programs, something we have always prided ourselves on. Our OCT program is an example of how we care about the IDD members in our community, and how easy inclusion can be when dedicated community members advocate for each other.
 
Every Spring, OCT has their own private graduation ceremony the day before the university-wide commencement ceremony. OCT had to create their private ceremony as an alternative solution for not being able to participate at commencement as OCT students are not matriculating UNF students. At this graduation, the graduating students are presented with their certificate of completion and have kind words spoken about their character as they receive it. This ceremony is certainly special and allows for the students to be recognized as individuals, however, they should be allowed the opportunity to participate in the general ceremonies like their peers.

The private ceremony is for recognizing each student as an individual and is personalized for them and their family and friends. The commencement is for tradition and recognizing the students and their graduating class. Neither ceremony takes away the value of the other.

I am reaching out to members of our community here at UNF to help advocate for the inclusion of our peers in the On Campus Transition program at the general commencement ceremonies held every Spring. Let us continue to be an inclusive university that celebrates a diverse population of students. 

If you are a UNF student/ faculty, please sign this petition using your UNF email.