Throughout the global pandemic, students have watched events they anticipated get ripped away. From sports seasons, to proms, to graduations; anything students have been looking forward to have been either postponed or cancelled altogether. The newest thing on the chopping block: December commencement.
Due to coronavirus, December commencement, which usually takes place indoors, will not be able to take place due to health and safety concerns. Executive Vice President Paul Savory received a recommendation from the campus Health and Wellness team to not host the event this winter.
“This December, we would have to hold an event inside-- in Haddix or the Fieldhouse,” Savory said. “Having an inside event is more problematic for ensuring the safety of a large group. It does not seem too prudent to invite 1,000 or more people to campus in the middle of December for an indoor event.”
Right now, over 200 students who were going to attend the December commencement are missing out on their graduation at the end of this semester. With many important events already taken from them, those who were going to attend are upset about yet another event being cancelled, especially one so important.
In response to a survey sent out to students about December commencement, one student said they were upset about the cancellation.
“It’s disappointing. I know this is a difficult time but these are one time events in our lives.”
Although this may seem like an abrupt and premature decision, the decision could not have been made later than Oct. In order to prevent students and the University from getting ready for graduation, the decision was made early.
“The reason that the decision had to be made now is because graduating students need to order caps and gowns,” Savory said. “This order typically takes five to seven weeks and for graduate students, (this) can be quite expensive. We did not want students to incur the cost of buying these if we had serious doubts that we would be able to hold the event.”
As of now, the plan is to have the students who were going to graduate in Dec. to be honored at the May 2021 commencement ceremony. However, this idea is not positively received by all, as some want to be recognized with their own class.
When asked what they would like to see happen for the class of 2020, one survey response said, “Their own separate ceremony. It doesn't have to be in winter, it can be early spring next year, but I don't want to share the same day with the class of 2021.”
The coronavirus has ruined a lot of special moments, but one way this can be better is to make sure graduates’ accomplishments are acknowledged at the end of this semester.
“The non-residential campuses and the graduate programs have their own traditions to honor and recognize their students,” Savory said. “Fellow students, faculty and staff can send a personal note, card or email to a graduate to congratulate them on their achievement.”