I’m sure that the majority of us agree that the 2019-2020 school year has been filled with surprises. We have gone through many historical events whether it was on this campus or a change in the entire world. What is affecting us the most right now globally is the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the fifty states have issued a stay-at-home order, including North Carolina. The order in North Carolina was first issued to end on April 29, but according to The News and Observer, Governor Roy Cooper is extending his stay-at-home order through May 8.
There are many rules being set in stone to try and prevent the further spreading of COVID-19. One of these rules is to prevent any mass gatherings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out guidelines on canceling events that put people at high risk and gatherings with at least ten people. These guidelines are very much needed, but for those in their senior year, this is detrimental. Although I am a sophomore, one group of students I believe should have the spotlight shined on them during this time is our graduating class of spring 2020.
Graduation is one of the most important events in a student’s lifetime, especially for a college graduate. After spending sixteen or more years balancing education with drastic changes in life and spending thousands of dollars, anyone would be upset with the idea of not being able to walk across the stage to be recognized in front of thousands for their hard work and dedication towards their future just as they are about to enter it. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have canceled graduation. I hate to see some of my friends and my brother not get recognition for the hard work that they have done. This situation does not seem as if it is going to end anytime soon, which is why I understand why some schools have canceled graduation; however, they do not exactly have to.
There are other ways to hold commencement rather than to cancel it.
UNC Charlotte has decided to postpone its graduation. Chancellor Dubois has stated, “The University is considering in-person ceremony options in either August or December, and we expect to finalize these plans by May.” Another idea that some schools are investing in, even if this isn’t the most ideal alternative, is to recognize thousands of students by hosting virtual graduations. Penn State has issued a statement explaining, “In response to the growing Coronavirus pandemic, orders from the state government and recommendations from global public health organizations, Penn State will hold its spring 2020 commencement ceremony via live stream on May 9. The virtual ceremony will recognize all Penn State undergraduate students and all graduate students in the Penn State Graduate School.”
Commencement is such a crucial milestone in the lives of many students. This may be the last time they have attended school and are settling into the rest of their lives or they may have achieved their goals to get into a graduate school. The importance of it being in-person is why I stand with the idea that universities should postpone their graduations regardless of if fits into the next semester or next year. Having a place to collectively celebrate with family, friends and classmates makes the whole process more joyful. Imagine having another milestone in life be recognized virtually or through proof sent in the mail such as a wedding. Of course, it is always the thought that counts; however, it is always important to have those moments where the spotlight is on you.