Seniors to Have Virtual Graduation Ceremony

Seniors to Have Virtual Graduation Ceremony

Rinae Cotton, Reporter

This semester’s graduating students will have their ceremony over Zoom.

James Roberts, Chief of Staff, said there will be two virtual graduation ceremonies on Dec. 20, one for students eligible to graduate in December 2020 and another for those who graduated in May 2020.

“These ceremonies will be via video where the degrees will be conferred to all in each group. After the plenary ceremonies, graduates will be invited to join in live, individual online events in smaller groups by academic major or program where they will be acknowledged individually,” Roberts said.

Many parents and students shared their disappointment with not having an in-person ceremony. Roberts said that while he, too, feels this, the university’s main priority right now is keeping everyone safe. He said having a drive-thru graduation was an option that was considered, but the recent rise in COVID-19 cases on campus forced officials to make a different call.

“With the current rates of COVID infection, bringing over 1,000 guests to campus from multiple locations could pose a transmission risk during and after any gathering. Since the drive-thru events were also to be exclusively outside, some expressed concern about the December weather having a negative impact on the quality of the ceremony and the safety of those driving and walking,” he said.

He said officials are also revising other aspects of graduation in light of the new circumstances. Officials are in the process of refunding some of the graduation fees, and caps and gowns will not be required to be worn for the virtual part of the ceremony.

Roberts said he hopes students and their loved ones will understand the reason behind the change.

“We are sure that people find the changes frustrating. We ask for their patience and understanding,” he said.

Jack Malone, senior mass communications and design major who will graduate in December, said with the rising cases a virtual ceremony is the safest thing to do.

He feels that having an in-person ceremony would be most memorable, but he does not feel that one lost day will overshadow his whole college experience.

“I have made so many great memories through many aspects throughout college,” Malone. “Whether it be with my friends, through athletics, and all the time I have spent studying and working for this day. Those are the memories that I value and those are more memorable to me,” Malone said.

Malone said he is still looking forward to graduating and getting the degree he has worked hard to earn.

He said he will wear his cap and gown during the virtual ceremony as a way to make the experience feel more normal.

Sierra Crane, senior mass communications and design major who is also graduating in December, said graduating via Zoom isn’t perfect, but she understands the necessity.

“I was really looking forward to graduating with my friends and having my parents on campus to see me walking across the stage to get my college degree,, but now they get to watch me walk across my kitchen to get my degree on Zoom,” she said.

She said she still has the support of her family to count on, as her parents and grandparents plan to be at her house to see and celebrate her graduation.