UNA adds third ceremony to fall graduation

FLORENCE, Ala. -- The University of North Alabama announced Monday tickets will not be required for their fall commencement ceremonies. The university cited multiple reasons for the change, including, feedback from student and family members on the former plan to issues tickets for admission.

"We will not be implementing a ticketing policy," Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, Ross Alexander said.

Those words became music to students' ears.

"We are so thankful and grateful," former student Katie Raines said.

"I am purely ecstatic," UNA senior Madelyn Gray said.

A renovation project created nearly 800 fewer seats for graduation. School officials decided the solution would be to create a ticket policy, limiting students to 6 guests each.

"It's hard to do that like how do you choose who's the most important," Gray said.

Normally there are two graduation ceremonies. Students petitioned for an additional ceremony on Change.org

"I was like OK, maybe we can do a petition, but I was kind of like I don't want to do it wrong. I was a little bit afraid," Gray said.

"She actually wanted to go through with it, so I talked to her and then she decided, you know OK let's do this," UNA senior Emperor Cosby said.

The petition got thousands of signatures. School officials say the response to the decision is one of the reasons they changed their minds.

"The university just wants to do what is best for students and their families," Alexander said.

For this social work student, it put to practice what she's been studying for four years.

"We saw an issue, we advocated for ourselves, and we got the results that we were hoping for," Cosby said.

"Teamwork makes the dream work and roar lions," Gray said.

They can't wait to share their graduation day with all their family and friends.

The new ceremony will include graduates from the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Education and Human Sciences on Friday, December 14. On Saturday, two ceremonies will take place for the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business.

The university notes they will continue to implement a three-ceremony commencement for may and December graduates, while also adding an August commencement in 2019 for summer graduates.