About 20 Western Maryland College students protested Wednesday an administrative policy that prohibits students who fall short of graduation requirements from participating in Saturday's commencement.
"I bought my announcements and cap and gown and everything," said Andrea Mack, a senior barred from the ceremony because she did not satisfy an art requirement. "I just want to walk across the stage with the people I know, not wait a whole year until the next graduation."
The college's student handbook outlines the qualifications for graduation, said Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Barbara Disharoon, who watched the demonstration.
She said more than 230 students will participate in the graduation ceremony this weekend, and about 20 were told they would not graduate.
Twelve were notified of their status Tuesday night after final grades were tallied by the administration, Ms. Disharoon said.
The demonstrators -- most of whom were not affected by the policy -- held posters pleading administrators to let students like Ms. Mack participate in the ceremony despite their lack of required credits.
Senior Kelley Quain is missing a three-credit language class.
"I am very disappointed," said Ms. Quain. "I don't want my diploma or anything now. I just want the experience.
Ms. Mack said that since the college is making allowances for her to take her final three credits at another college -- an exception that requires the dean's permission -- the administration should bend the rules to allow students who are close to satisfying graduation requirements to participate in the ceremony.
Ms. Disharoon doesn't see it that way.
"I just wonder what students who have worked diligently and really spent long hours to meet the requirements would feel if the person standing next to them at commencement did not have enough credits to graduate," Ms. Disharoon said.