On April 2, University President Dennis Assanis sent an email addressed to the class of 2020 announcing that this year’s commencement ceremony would be postponed.
“Importantly, this is not a cancellation,” the email stated.
We at The Review obviously understand the decision to postpone the ceremony, and we commend the university for taking this step to ensure the health and safety of all members of the university community. However, we still have concerns and reservations regarding how this important milestone in our seniors’ lives will be handled.
In the announcement email, Assanis attached a survey aimed at gathering data from graduating seniors on what they would like to see happen for their ceremony.
Five options were put forward:
1. Ceremony later in 2020, pending a slow down in the spread of coronavirus, with no on-campus housing offered
2. Ceremony in June of 2021 with the potential for on-campus housing
3. Joint ceremony with the class of 2021
4. Celebration, not a ceremony, during Alumni Weekend 2021 with the potential for on-campus housing
5. Virtual ceremony on May 30, 2020
It almost goes without saying that next to no one wants to see a joint ceremony with 2020 and 2021. This would be a disservice to the accomplishments of both classes as well as a logistical nightmare.
A ceremony later in 2020 would be up in the air for several more weeks or months at this point, so this also does not seem like a good option for an event that is usually planned months in advance.
Similar to a joint ceremony, we feel that lumping commencement in with Alumni Weekend as a “special celebration” would be equally dissatisfying for the seniors who have worked for this for four years.
While many schools have taken to doing online or virtual commencement ceremonies, this also seems unsatisfactory. Simply put, there is no virtual equivalent to being in the stadium with your peers. Emotional sentiment aside, again: logistical nightmare.
That leaves us with a ceremony in June of 2021 solely for the class of 2020. This raises issues on its own regarding whether students would or even could come back for this. However, this option appears to be the closest that’s been suggested to meeting everyone’s wants and needs.
Overall, we have three requests when planning this event.
First, we want a real ceremony. No “special celebration” nonsense. Our seniors put their all into their work for years; they deserve a real ceremony.
Second, we would like to see housing provided to the extent that it would be in a regular year. Along with that, we do not want to see outrageous housing prices. Local hotels and AirBnBs are already typically stretched thin during these events, and it would be an impossible situation to force students who had planned to still be in university housing to rely on these businesses. It wouldn’t be fair to students or the employees of these businesses who would have to work that much harder to accommodate.
Third, the university should actually listen to students, particularly seniors, on this topic. Beyond the survey sent out, this editorial represents the opinions of a majority of our staff members at The Review. Despite what information the administration may or may not release about the outcome of the email survey, let this piece serve as public notice of the wants of the university community.
We do not want a joint ceremony, we do not want a virtual ceremony, we do not want a “special celebration.” We want our seniors to have a ceremony worthy of them and their achievements, even if it isn’t held next month. The class of 2020 is already walking into the worst job market and economy since the Great Depression, let them have their commencement ceremony.
The Review’s editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Victoria Calvin, Copy Desk Chief. She may be reached at VCalvin@udel.edu.