COVID-19 and Commencement

Spring graduates seek commencement closure

Scout Springgate

As a now proud alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, I felt as though I accomplished all that I hoped for during my academic tenure with the exception of one event. That event is my commencement where I would walk across the stage and receive my diploma. My fellow graduates and I never accomplished this feat due to the COVID-19 pandemic that still plagues society today. 

On March 23, 2020, the university postponed the spring 2020 commencement ceremony due to the public health and safety concerns related to the Coronavirus. A “Virtual Celebration of Graduates” was held on May 16 as a placeholder event, and the university stated that it not serve as a substitute for an in-person commencement. 

As the fall 2020 semester begins with much uncertainty still present in regard to the pandemic, the question that comes to mind is if and when will an in-person commencement occur? Almost four months have passed since the end of last spring’s term with no update about an alternative date for the postponed commencement ceremony. 

The virtual celebration of graduates provided a unique alternative to the traditional commencement ceremony, but many still desire more solid closure to their academic years. Many have said that they feel as though their college career was never really completed. We never got the opportunity to celebrate with friends on campus, thank professors face-to-face, or take one final bar crawl down the streets of Whitewater, which we called home for so long. 

My suggestion would be to consider granting the spring 2020 graduates the option of participating in a future commencement ceremony- whenever that may be. This would appease those wanting a traditional ceremony, yet also allow graduates to decide whether to do so on their own accord.

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, patience seems to be the only remedy at the moment. However, my fellow graduates and I eagerly await the university’s update on any options for a true commencement ceremony. 

Scout Springgate

UW-Whitewater Class of 2020