On March 25, President Sarah Bolton sent an email to the Class of 2021 detailing plans for commencement this year. While the organizers have taken several factors into account while making the plans to ensure every senior has the opportunity to celebrate — such as planning an outdoor event while also considering the possibility of severe weather — students have expressed concerns about the move-out time being on the same night as the commencement.
“I am excited to share that we are moving forward with plans for an in-person Commencement ceremony for the Class of 2021, to be held Saturday, May 8 at 10 a.m.,” Bolton stated. “All members of the Class of 2021 — including those studying on campus and those studying remotely — are welcome to participate, and we will also be able to welcome a limited number of guests.”
Bolton added that students will also be able to participate in the ceremony virtually.
To comply with social distancing regulations, each graduate will receive two tickets to invite family members or guests. The ceremony is tentatively scheduled to be held at John Papp Stadium.
“The College will make all official weather calls no later than Thursday, May 6,” Bolton detailed regarding the plan to hold an outdoor ceremony.
The College has also made arrangements to hold the commencement ceremony at McGaw Chapel in case of severe weather. However, if the commencement is held in the Chapel, guests will gather separately at the Timken Gymnasium in the Scot Center to meet COVID-19 regulations. The event is set to start at 9 a.m., where students will march through the Arch and the commencement ceremony will start an hour later.
Several students have expressed excitement regarding the plan for the ceremony and the College’s determination to make it happen. “Overall, I feel great about the College’s plan for commencement,” Dante King ’21 said. “I’m so excited that our parents and other family and friends will get to attend in person!”
Another senior Dũng Chí Nguyễn ‘21 also echoed King’s sentiment. “It was a shame that our seniors last year could not have a graduation ceremony due to the sudden emergence of COVID, but it is impressive to see how far we have managed to come from that point,” he said. “Giving each senior two tickets is also a good thing, but hopefully will be done with caution, since quite a few seniors will be inviting family members from outside The States. I feel hopeful! The College has done a good job with managing the campus during the academic year so far.”
Although most seniors are excited about the graduation celebration, they have also mentioned discontent regarding the move-out time, which is at 8 p.m. on the day of the commencement.
“The move-out date being on the same day is a huge inconvenience, if I can be honest,” Dung said. “Before we reach the commencement date, there are a lot of responsibilities that seniors specifically have to deal with. These include finishing up I.S. procedures if we had not done so already, paperwork for possible employment, preparing for graduation and making the last memories with friends. For students from countries that are still not allowing the flights back like me, it is even harder to plan out our exact nearest future plan due to the predicament we are in. With these in mind, it would have been more favorable if the college had given us more leniency regarding the move-out date.”
Yuta Nitanai ’21, another international student graduating this year, also shared his dissatisfaction regarding the move-out time. “[Moving out] will be too much work for many seniors, especially for international seniors, to move out on the same day of Commencement,” Nitanai said. “I hope that the College changes their plan and delays the move-out time so that we will have some flexibility in our travel plans.”