By Thea Marshall, Staff Writer –
Spring graduates this year will be looking at a different commencement ceremony compared to ones in the past. Several changes have been made to the ceremony; including guest’s attendance and walking.
Changes are being made to accommodate the safety of guests and graduates due to the global pandemic.
There will be eight graduation ceremonies to reduce capacity. Each graduate will receive only four additional tickets. Masks and social distancing are required under the Covid protocol.
Due to the unusual circumstances, the ceremonies are open from May and Aug. 2021 for May 2020, Aug. 2020, and Dec. 2020 graduates.
Some of the graduates will have to walk in the ceremony then return to finish classes because ceremonies will be held in April before finals have ended.
Joel Wells, from the University Register, says this protocol is common with what other universities are doing.
“I think we are doing the best we can under the circumstances,” Wells said. “I know people would prefer that we have a normal ceremony but I am optimistic that we will get back to that by December.”
Spring graduate Katie Coker said that graduation is not being held in the best way possible. She said she wishes the University surveyed seniors regarding dates, times, and the “four guest limit.” Coker said she hoped the ceremony would be held outside at Finley Stadium instead of inside of McKenzie arena.
“Finley Stadium is huge and I have never seen it at full capacity in all of my four years here,” Coker said. “I think an outdoor ceremony would have allowed more guests to attend and more people would feel comfortable attending because it is an outdoor venue.”
In past years, there were two undergraduate ceremonies and one graduate ceremony. This year, five of the commencements will be held during the workweek, meaning some family members will not be able to attend.
“I do not fault the University for the way they have planned the ceremonies considering special circumstances, I just wish they accepted student input,” Coker said.
Another spring graduate, Lydia Kindiger, agreed in saying graduation would be safer outdoors. Kindiger also said it will be nice having eight ceremonies because each session will be shorter.
Wells stated many people are disappointed that not everyone can choose the Saturday commencement. However, he said he hopes that everyone can find an option that works with their schedule.
For more information on graduation ceremonies and what to expect, visit here.