As the end of the academic year approaches, the following are some important dates, celebrations and options that the senior class, as well as the entire student body, should keep in mind. All Independent Study (I.S.) submissions have been moved online, but the College has taken steps to make the process as normal as possible to imitate previous years. An option to book a time to have a Tootsie Roll photoshoot was implemented earlier this semester and will be available until March 29. The day also marks the final day for seniors to submit their projects, after a one-week grace period that has been granted due to COVID-19. The senior and up to nine others of their choice will be allowed access to the inflatable Tootsie Roll for a ten minute slot. Along with these festivities, I.S. celebration bags will be available at the Dean of Students Office in Galpin Hall for seniors on campus to stop by and pick up. Seniors who are studying remotely this semester will be mailed the celebratory bag. To sign up for a Tootsie Roll photoshoot slot, visit https://wooster.edu/info/2020-2021-guide/seniors/independent-study/.
Senior Research Symposium continues to be an option for any and all seniors who wish to share their Independent Study projects with friends, family members, faculty and staff. On Friday, April 16 the 2021 Senior Research Symposium will be held virtually from 8 a.m. to midnight (EDT). This will allow the College of Wooster community to experience senior presentations and engage in a live Q&A with presenters about their projects, as is tradition. This will be the second year that Wooster has held a virtual symposium, the Class of 2020 being the first to spearhead the new experience. A link to the virtual symposium will be available at 8 a.m. on April 16. Members of the Class of 2021 who wish to participate must complete an online submission form and attach all necessary documentation no later than April 2. The symposium submission form and other information can be found at https://wooster.edu/academics/research/is/symposium/submission/.
While I.S. celebrations and Virtual Symposium have been able to remain as traditional as possible despite the circumstances, the issue of commencement continues to be uncertain. After holding a meeting and sending out a survey to seniors to gather input, President Sarah Bolton sent a letter to the seniors and parents of the Class of 2021. Bolton wrote, “We really appreciated the discussion about commencement itself, as well as other important ceremonies like the multicultural stoling, academic prizes, musical performances and lavender graduation. Our goal in planning the ceremonies is to provide the greatest possible opportunity to celebrate your graduation and all you have achieved, consistent with safety and public health.”
Senior responses heavily favored an in-person graduation with as much normalcy as possible. Bolton acknowledged these wishes, saying, “While we do not yet have guidance from the State of Ohio, we are very optimistic that we will be able to hold in-person commencement ceremonies for those seniors studying on campus this semester. Our ongoing campus COVID-testing program makes us confident that we can gather seniors safely, with masks and social distancing, without risking transmission.”
Another aspect of commencement that is under discussion is the inclusion of the seniors’ family members being allowed to attend in-person. “Our ability to safely include family members and students studying remotely in on-campus ceremonies will depend critically on the national public health situation,” Bolton said, “which we hope will continue to improve with additional vaccinations. Whatever shape our campus ceremonies take, we will provide a robust opportunity for those who cannot be on campus to watch and participate virtually.”
While plans for graduation this spring are still uncertain, The College of Wooster seems to be favoring an in-person, although modified, celebration. Until then, seniors are encouraged to share their work on April 16 during Virtual Symposium and take advantage of the Tootsie Roll photoshoot!