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Illinois State University's College of Education commencement at Redbird Arena on Saturday, May 7, 2011. (The Pantagraph/STEVE SMEDLEY)

Aside from those students have may have obtained jobs in town, the Illinois State University Class of 2011 has largely moved out and dispersed.

The residence hall rooms, apartments and houses where they lived have been, or are in the process of being cleaned out, maybe even repaired and repainted.

Along Willow Street in Normal, some houses already have been torn down, making way for more "upscale" student housing.

But there was little time for graduates to say their good-byes before leaving, little time to savor the accomplishments for which they worked so hard.

The lease arrangements in residence halls and most student rental properties call for students to pack their belongings and turn in their keys on graduation day.

So the days leading up to the big event are filled not only with completing assignments and taking final exams, but also with packing boxes and loading trailers or moving vans.

Such are the pitfalls of renting/leasing by the semester or school year, rather than by the month or year, as non-students do.

We understand that property owners have cleaning to do before the next group of renters move in.

We recognize that many of the staff members in student housing are students themselves, and they want to get out of town, too.

We acknowledge that bending the rules for a few graduates could cause headaches -- as well as requests from non-graduates for move-out extensions for their own reasons.

But we appeal to university officials and property managers to consider whether there is a better, more caring, way to end a college graduate's stay in town rather than a swift kick out the door.

Undoubtedly, there already are some exceptions made, perhaps in exchange for a little extra cash.

But we can't help feeling an opportunity is being missed -- not only an opportunity to give graduates a proper sendoff but also an opportunity to have them and their family or friends stay an extra day and boost the economy with a special graduation celebration dinner at a local restaurant or a longer stay in local hotels.

Even though the students are gone, particularly the graduates, the people who make the decisions about move-in and move-out times are still around.

So we urge them to review their policies before the Class of 2012 nears graduation, and find more ways to make them feel welcome, rather than handing them a diploma and saying, "Don't let the door hit you on your way out."


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