Pushed-back drawbacks: Seniors lament the Memorial Day graduations of yesteryear
Copy Desk Chief
When the university pushed back this spring semester’s academic calendar by one week, it added a week-long buffer zone between the start of winter session, on Jan. 7 this year, and New Year’s Eve.
Yet, in so doing, this year’s graduation date moved from Memorial Day Weekend — which already extends beyond the graduation dates of comparable universities — to June 1.
To some seniors, the prospect of an extra week of college was likely a blessing; to others, it was salt in a wound, further exacerbating an already unusually late graduation date. In fact, the new graduation date will prevent some students from attending the ceremony altogether.
Paige Morrison, who graduated a semester early but had intended to walk at graduation, will soon be working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia. She leaves for her program on May 29, and she was unable to negotiate for a different start date.
“Upon beginning my Peace Corps service there isn’t a guarantee I’ll see my family or friends again before I complete my service in September 2021,” Morrison said. “It’s upsetting to know I’ll be missing a really important and meaningful moment I could’ve shared with my loved ones.”
If this year’s graduation date hadn’t been pushed back, Morrison would’ve been able to attend the ceremony before leaving for Peace Corps, which, she said, she would have done gladly.
“If the date wasn’t pushed back a week, graduation could’ve been how I spent one of my last dates in the U.S. and that would’ve meant a lot to me,” Morrison said.
Marissa Onesi, a senior at the university, is similarly impacted by the extended graduation date. She will be working as a Teach For America volunteer in Memphis, and her on-site training starts on June 2 — the day after graduation.
She said she’ll either fly there the night of graduation or early the following morning. She was also unable to negotiate for a later start date, as training days are vital to her work.
Onesi’s situation is further complicated by the fact that her lease — like that of many off-campus seniors — ends on June 1. As such, she’s dreading “the stress of moving out the day [she] graduates.”
Though she is going to her convocation ceremonies, she won’t attend the larger commencement ceremony, which, she said, is in part because of having to move all her belongings out of her house the same day.
While lease- and job-related issues may be exclusive to seniors, the last day of classes is May 20 and final exams end on May 30, keeping all students here much longer than their counterparts at other universities. Moreover, this will leave many students without more than a weekend’s worth of rest between finals and starting summer internships or jobs.
“You just don’t have any time off, which is horrible” Onesi said. “I can’t think of any advantages to this.”