We are less than two months away from graduation, the day where all of the students completing their Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates join together and celebrate their massive accomplishments. Usually, this day is filled with joy, excitement, and tears both happy and sad. But of course, due to the pandemic, like everything else, commencement has changed this year.
On March 4, 2021, Chancellor Marcelo Suárez-Orozco sent out an email informing the UMass Boston community of the upcoming plan for this year’s commencement.
So far, due to the pandemic, the university has decided that the commencement for both classes of 2020 and 2021 will be held virtually, with an attempt to incorporate certain interactive elements. In the email it states that “the details of our virtual celebration(s) have not been finalized, but we envision a dynamic interactive event that will include the traditional elements of an in-person commencement.”
There are various other universities that are following this route, and opting out of an in-person commencement.
Emerson College is one of the schools that announced that their commencement will be conducted virtually through their website. The website states that their commencement is planning on being scheduled on May 9, and that despite being virtual, they will try their best to “include many of the elements that students and families have come to expect and love.”
Another university that is conducting a virtual commencement is Harvard University. The university’s president, Lawrence S. Bacow, declared that each Harvard school will conduct their own virtual commencement on the side of the official ceremony. On the official Harvard website, it states that the Harvard community will “gather as a community online on Thursday, May 27, to award degrees and celebrate the achievements of our graduates.” The letter later promises that once things are in the clear, they will reunite the class of 2020 and 2021 and give them a proper celebration.
Despite these universities' decisions, there are certain universities who are still trying to provide their students with an in-person graduation, all while abiding by the city’s rules and regulations.
Schools like Northeastern University, Suffolk University, and Boston University have so far promised their students that there will be some sort of in-person graduation that will both celebrate them and ensure their safety, along with the safety of others around them.
Northeastern University so far plans on providing its students with two separate in-person commencements. As in the news section on the Northeastern University Website, there is a letter posted, stating that the “current plan is for all undergraduate students in the Class of 2021 [...] to celebrate commencement at a premiere, outdoor Boston venue.” They then go on to state how they will attempt to abide by the city’s guidelines, through stating that they plan on holding two different ceremonies for the undergraduate department, and allowing each senior to bring one or two guests to the commencement. As for their graduate students, Northeastern University is planning on also providing them with an in-person commencement, although the information regarding this commencement is not completely disclosed just yet. One thing for sure is that this commencement will be held throughout the week, from May 3 to May 7.
As for Boston University, it also plans on holding an in-person commencement. BU’s president Robert Brown had announced that their university will hold an in-person commencement on May 16. Of course, this commencement will also come with certain limitations, where the commencement being held will only be for the people graduating in May 2021 or September 2021, and guests are not allowed to attend.
And finally, the third university that plans on holding an in-person commencement is Suffolk University. Marissa Kelly, Suffolk’s university president, has stated, “In the face of a pandemic that has taken a very heavy toll, Suffolk students have managed to persevere and pursue their educational and personal goals. Perhaps more than ever, our 2020 and 2021 graduates deserve the opportunity to walk across the stage and reflect back on what they have accomplished and where they are going from here.”
For now, it seems like our university will be sticking with a virtual commencement. Within the Chancellor’s email, there is a link to a form where students can enter their inputs in regards to how the university can celebrate its students. Currently, the link appears not to be online. Should the form come back online, the staff will be able to take into consideration the students’ opinions. With all that being said, stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy these last two months.