Graduates to Receive Personalized Graduation Slide at Commencement

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By Jade Leah Burns, Staff Writer

Illustration by Jane Montalto

All graduating seniors received an email on Friday, April 10, signed by Matthew Blanar, director of student affairs, explaining how commencement will play out.

“The culmination of years of hard work has arrived. The Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2020 at Long Island University will take place on Wednesday, May 20 at 10 a.m.,” the email stated.

The email further explained how seniors can order a cap and gown. It also revealed how each student will be recognized by a “personalized graduation slide” at commencement.

Jules Rivera, a senior acting major, is disappointed about the decision to make graduation a virtual ceremony, explaining that it denies her the reward to walk at commencement, and that the end will not justify the means.

“The idea of having a virtual ceremony is truthfully a slap in the face,” she said. “I’m now thousands of dollars in debt and don’t have a ceremony to look forward to.”

Rivera went on about all of her hardships while living on campus, including two mice in her room and “subpar” facilities. She said the only reason she deals with it is because of the theatre program.

Each student can purchase regalia online. Prices range from $80 to $190, excluding shipping and handling, and depending on what degree a student is graduating with. Cap and gowns will be shipped directly to a student’s home. If a student reserved a set before the switch, they will need to complete a new form to finalize orders.

Victoria Rousseau, a senior musical theatre major, said she refuses to purchase an $80 cap and gown for a ceremony, which to some, is nonexistent. Instead, she bought a cap and gown on Amazon in a color that she actually likes.

The ceremony, now scheduled for May 20, is planned to be on a virtual interactive platform. During the commencement, there will be remarks, distinguished speakers and slides of graduating students. Each senior will have a customized slide including their name, major and degree. Before graduation, students are asked to add a photo, custom text and the proper pronunciation of their name. During or after the ceremony, students will be able to download and share their personal slides on social media.

Rousseau said the virtual ceremony is ridiculous, and that a slideshow is a complete disrespect to the entire graduating class.

“They could have just postponed it to the fall. Nobody is okay with this. A customized slide? Seriously, that is not recognition at all,” she said. “I’m a first generation grad and all I have to show for it is a piece of paper that they will mail to me and two seconds of a powerpoint. It’s a joke.”

Rivera agreed, emphasizing that a personalized slide is certainly not $75,000 worth [of tuition costs].

“Obviously my money isn’t going towards the facilities, so where is it going?” she said.

The email also informed seniors about a virtual invitation to the commencement ceremony, which students are encouraged to share with their families and friends, with a link to livestream the event. In order for family and friends to receive a personal invite from the school, students must complete a form which can be found at https://liu.edu/commencement/student-information#slides.

Digital copies of the official commencement program will be sent to each student. If desired, a hard copy can also be sent to a student’s home upon request. The program will include a schedule of events, names of all graduates and a list of honors and recognitions.

For the remainder of the year, senior events will take place on Zoom, to which students can expect invitations to via email. The events were created to celebrate senior’s accomplishments with their class. Pre-registration is not required.

Rousseau received some emails thus far regarding the senior events, but deleted them rather than reading them.

“It’s not in my interest to cater to them at all,” she said. “They won’t give me even an inch of respect, why should I participate in these pathetic senior events? We don’t want them, we want a graduation.”

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