By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
UTC administrative staff recently announced the University’s plans for the upcoming spring graduation ceremony. After much waiting, curiosity, and anticipation, graduates were informed on Friday that eight separate ceremonies will take place for undergraduates, with a separate ceremony occurring for post-grad students. The university explains in their informational email that each ceremony will include up to 200 graduating students allotted 4 guests each. Additionally, the email declares that “Social distancing and mask wearing will be required by all attendees throughout all ceremonies” and that there “will be a zero tolerance policy for non-compliance with safety protocols and non-compliant guests will be escorted from the arena.”
Still though, I am likely in the minority of students feeling uneasy. While I know many students are thrilled at the opportunity to have a graduation much closer to the “normal,” I am still unsure if I will attend. I certainly want to, and I will even be fortunate enough to be fully vaccinated at that point, but I struggle with the idea of gathering with 800+ people indoors despite the CDC and other leading health officials still asking for large groups to avoid coming together, especially indoors.
Had the ceremony been held outside, or if there were a way to opt for an outdoor or indoor ceremony, I would be all in. If the ceremony had been limited to graduates only, I also wouldn’t have hesitated to begin planning to attend. But the combination of this ceremony being indoors (even with limited numbers) and people traveling from outside of the city to attend is daunting to me, and I feel a bit torn about being a part of it morally.
Of course I am excited to graduate, and college graduation is a memorable thing. The pomp and circumstance always feels special. But also, walking across a stage has never been the end goal of mine, and I would never want my own selfishness to work against the common good. So, I am torn.
I appreciate UTC trying to adapt and make graduation possible, but I feel it would’ve been helpful to provide greater choices for graduates with different levels of COVID-related comfort. We still have a responsibility to mitigate the effects of the pandemic even as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I don’t want to be a part of the problem. Still, though, graduation is a special day. And all that being said, I still haven’t decided if I am going to attend or not.