As President Richardson reveals in a recent Q&A briefing, the possibility of an in-person graduation ceremony is “dependent on the state of the pandemic as spring nears.” Several students within the class of 2021 were willing to express their stance on commencement.
Many students hope that the convocation can remain as traditional as possible, as this allows for a preservation of integrity behind the event. Music education and performance major John Daniels said, “Too often do we have to ‘Zoom this’ or ‘virtual that,’ and it ruins the history, tradition, and meaning behind these different events. Being able to participate in-person with…protocols at least gives us that physical stimulation that [is felt] being on Senior Terrace and [seeing] the proud faces of our family, peers, and professors as we accept our degrees.”
Accounting major Cameron Mika seconds Daniels’ stance, stating that despite the challenges accompanied by COVID-19, “we are still having in-person classes. If there was not an in-person graduation, my classmates [and I] would be disappointed [that] we could not celebrate this great day.”
Early childhood and special education major Erin Kennedy also favors an in-person ceremony, extending that she would like to have the ability to “invite more than two family members” if this will be safe at the time of commencement.
Several students have outlined prospective approaches to a modified in-person event as well. Regarding her perspective on commencement, English major Amanda Walter asserts that as long as safety and order are maintained, the event could be “masked with a small number of attendees.”
However, the graduating class remains understanding that circumstances may not allow for in-person festivities and are willing to prioritize public health if physical gatherings are not encouraged at the time of graduation. Approaching this potential likelihood, Walter says “I’m emotionally prepared to not have in-person convocation…I do not believe preserving traditions are worth putting our Westminster community at risk.”
Rising graduates have also offered their insight on a proper virtual commencement. Broadcasting and media production major Natalie Fox claims that in the event where an in-person ceremony is not a possibility, she would prefer “a pre-recorded commencement that airs on graduation day.” Fox proposes that “a rolling slide of names, honors, and degrees would be a great way for [students], family, and friends to [all watch] at the same time.”
While the logistics of a proper ceremony for the class of 2021 are still pending, seniors continue to anticipate their participation in one of Westminster’s eldest practices.