photo courtesy of Andy Manis
The goal for many college students is to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas following years of studying, hard work and commitment to their university. That same mindset can be seen here at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where many 2020 graduates give their all to receive a degree from this institution on commencement day.
However, students received the news March 23 that, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they would be unable to walk the stage to receive their degrees this coming May. While the university is looking into alternative options for a commencement ceremony, many soon-to-be graduates have mixed feelings regarding the postponement.
“At first I was surprised and shocked, but it was expected due to the pandemic we are living through,” said senior Brian Martinez. “I was glad to see that our university’s administration was seeking student and community input in the decision-making process.”
While some came to terms with the fact they would not be able to walk in May, others took it a step further to show how important the commencement ceremony is for students.
Senior and soon-to-be 2020 graduate Amanda Emran felt the in-person ceremony was too important for her and her friends to miss. She took her reaction to social media where she began a Change.org petition to hold a commencement ceremony in September for the class of 2020.
“It was of immediate concern. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait,” said Emran.
She posted her petition the day the university announced that commencement would no longer be held in May and garnered 2,500 signatures. She wanted to get the university’s attention before a final decision was made regarding a make-up commencement ceremony.
A week later the university sent out another email with a survey for the campus community to pick which solution would be best for them.
“I like that they gave students options. My petition was mainly just to postpone,” said Emran. “They wanted to see what we preferred.”
Some options offered in the email from the university were to hold a late summer graduation or for students to cross the stage next December. Another option in line with the current online learning environment was to host a virtual ceremony for graduates so that they would still be able to take part in commencement during the pandemic this spring.
“I would really appreciate the opportunity to walk across the stage with my peers to show off all the accomplishments and work that we have put in during our years here,” said Charlie Kudy, a fellow soon-to-be spring 2020 graduate. “While I am deeply saddened, I understand the safety precautions the university is taking.”
With the effects of COVID-19 changing every day, it is still currently unknown what will happen to the future of spring commencement for the Class of 2020.