Graduation is the culmination of a student’s years of hard work inside and outside of the classroom. The ceremony is much more than a student walking across a stage in a cap and gown — it is a celebration. Students receive their diplomas and present their accolades to the friends and family who supported them along the way.
It is the moment at which an individual moves onto the next step in his or her life, taking on new responsibilities and accepting an earned status.
This time of celebration arrives amid the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Since the beginning of March, colleges and universities across the nation have suspended in-person classes and events and moved the remainder of the semester online.
Of all these events, the most notable event university administrations might consider cancelling is graduation. Should the formal graduation ceremony be cancelled?
According to Forbes.com, more than 90 universities have decided to either host a virtual ceremony, reschedule or cancel graduation all together. Out of the universities mentioned, half of the ceremonies have been cancelled. Most of the universities that have cancelled have no plans to reschedule the event.
Meanwhile, Shippensburg University has postponed its commencement ceremony. The university has not yet announced a rescheduled date, and because of the uncertain nature of the coronavirus pandemic, it is uncertain if SU will end up having an in-person commencement.
Although the risk of spreading the coronavirus is a plausible reason to postpone college graduation ceremonies, it is not a good enough reason to cancel it. Instead of making the rash decision to cancel the event altogether, universities should reschedule commencement for a later date once the coronavirus pandemic is under control — even if that date is in July or August.
Students who are virtually graduating have been vocal on how abnormal a virtual ceremony is. Although it is abnormal, having a virtual commencement ceremony is better than not having one at all.
The class of 2020 deserves a graduation ceremony. Graduation appreciates all of the countless nights students have stayed up in order to finish assignments. It shows that the stressful days were worth it.
Students have shown their effort through years of hard work. University officials should make every effort to hold a formal, in-person commencement ceremony. Graduating seniors have worked tremendously hard to get to the point they are at and it would be a shame to not receive the recognition they deserve.
Whatever option Shippensburg University officials choose, graduates will still receive their letter of completion and diploma just like they would at a regular ceremony. However, the concept of walking across the stage and shaking the president’s hand has more depth than walking to the mailbox and getting a diploma through the mail.