By Dylan Valic, Editor In Chief
The university is currently considering options to host an in-person commencement ceremony for the class of 2021, according to an email sent to students by Chief of Student Affairs Michael Berthel on March 29.
“The health and well-being of our graduates and community is our number one priority, and the University is awaiting additional information from health and safety officials before deciding our final plan for Commencement,” the email stated. “As we await further direction, the University is exploring options to hold an in-person ceremony for graduates. The ceremony would be streamed live so family and friends can be part of your special day.”
A follow up email sent by the Long Island University Commencement Team on Friday, April 2, reaffirmed the universities goal for an in-person ceremony.
“Our goal is to hold an in-person ceremony for graduates to attend that would be streamed live so family and friends can be part of your special day,” the email stated.
Students have mixed feelings about what format they would prefer for their ideal commencement ceremony.
Senior psychology major Nicole Ludwig would not be comfortable attending an in-person ceremony.
“COVID-19 is still a concern to me and I have several immunocompromised family members. I don’t want to put their well-being at risk for something that at the end of the day is just one day of my life,” she said. “We can celebrate in other meaningful ways, even if it does suck a little.”
Ludwig would prefer the event to be held virtually.
“If circumstances were different, then of course I’d want in-person, but virtual is both the safest and most realistic option for how 2021 is going,” she said.
Senior psychology major Shayla Harris agrees with Ludwig, and would prefer the event to be held virtually for the safety of everyone involved.
“I’m fully vaccinated, but I would not be comfortable with such a large gathering where most people would not be fully vaccinated, and I would not be comfortable knowing that the administration almost certainly did not ask the faculty and staff who would have to put on the event if they would be comfortable,” she said.
Harris believes that college graduations across the country should be held virtually this year and that students should have small individual gatherings with family and friends, rather than coming all together for one big ceremony.
“Students will have parties with their families and friends for their graduation, as is their right, but there is no reason for all of us to gather together with everyone’s friends and families,” she said. “Students could even gather with their friends and families in their backyards and watch the virtual graduation ceremony, and still have all the emotional moments they want without exposing everyone else to their family’s germs.”
Senior psychology, criminal justice and philosophy major, J. Fordsman, prefers the idea of an in-person ceremony, as long as it is held with safety in mind.
“If we do an in-person graduation where all the students are there, but no parents and guests are, then I’m one hundred percent okay with that,” he said.
Senior art therapy major, Kiki Griffin, would prefer an in-person ceremony, but understands why the university might decide to change to an all virtual format.
“You are graduating from college and you always thought you would walk, so I would definitely be sad if I didn’t get a chance to walk,” she said, “but then again it’s a really big accomplishment just to be graduating, so I’m excited to graduate and see what the future holds for me.”
One idea being implemented by other universities is having an in person ceremony for the graduating class, while family and friends would watch virtually from home.
Senior art therapy major Emma Herrmann described the idea of a live streamed graduation as “the new normal.”
“It’s a little sad, but it will be cool to be able to do that with our peers,” she said.
Ludwig believes that prohibiting family members from attending the ceremony would defeat the purpose of hosting it in the first place.
“A ceremony is meaningful for a lot of people because their family or loved ones are there. Also, if you’re concerned to the point where we have to limit who comes, then there probably shouldn’t be an in-person ceremony at all. That in itself, to me, is admitting that it’s too risky,” she said.
Regardless of what format the university decides for hosting commencement, Griffin plans to make the most of it.
“Either way I’m going to go outside, celebrate with friends and we’re all going to throw our caps up in the air one way or another,” she said.
The commencement ceremony for the class of 2021 will take place on Thursday, May 13. A format has yet to officially be announced.