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University, students consider graduation options amid campus shutdown

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Aaron Arellano
Staff Writer

The fate of the spring 2020 commencement ceremony is still to be announced as of this week.

While the University has not finalized anything, the commencement committee is actively discussing the best course of action to honor graduates in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Spring 2020 commencement was scheduled to take place on Friday, May 29, and Saturday, May 30, at Ortmayer Stadium.

According to the University’s coronavirus information page, the committee is reviewing “virtual options and participation in ceremonies after the summer.”

Deputy Chief Student Affairs Officer Ruby Montaño-Cordova addressed these options with the University’s executive board.

Montaño-Cordova said she hopes the University will announce plans by today.

“I gave a recommendation to the provost and to the president executive committee,” Montaño-Cordova said. “It contains information in terms of looking at all of the options that are available to us.”

During this global pandemic, Montaño-Cordova said many other universities and colleges have not made their decisions yet, and are likely considering similar options: postponement or holding virtual ceremonies.

Seniors such as criminology major Jasmine Jancan felt it is important for students to have received an update from the University by now.

“I feel like at least letting us know if they’re going to have it,” Jancan said. “For me, this ceremony is the biggest thing I want to happen. Not even knowing if it’s going to happen is just the hardest thing.”

Between the options of postponing the ceremony to a later date or experiencing a virtual ceremony, Jancan still preferred a physical ceremony if possible. Avoiding an online ceremony is Jancan’s biggest hope.

“I would rather wait two or three months and be able to walk with everybody than for it to be online and I feel like it would take away the importance of it,” Jancan said. “I’m going to be the first one in my family to graduate from my college. If it’s going to happen online, it’ll take away all that hard work you put in these four years.”

Regardless, Jancan understands the precautionary measures due to the pandemic.

“I originally felt (the pandemic) was going to blow over,” Jancan said. “At least I hoped.”

Senior liberal arts major Thomas Del Carmen expressed his understanding if the ceremony was canceled.

“Realistically, it’s not their fault. We can’t ask them to go against the government’s issue of no social gatherings,” Del Carmen said. “They’re doing the right thing by waiting.”

Since the University cannot go against government orders, Del Carmen believes they should address this problem in an email to the student body.

“The only mistake is the University hasn’t sent out anything that I’m saying. Like if things get worse, a physical ceremony isn’t feasible,” Del Carmen said.

Juniors sociology major Melanie Gazazian believes the pandemic has changed the entire outlook of traditional commencement ceremonies, including her own in 2021.

“I think schools in general should be prepared for damn near anything because of the world we live in now,”  Gazazian said. “If this gets way worse, I can understand why they wouldn’t have one. But it will still break my heart.”

For up-to-date information on graduation, with University resources and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit laverne.edu/health/coronavirus.

Aaron Arellano can be reached at aaron.arellano@laverne.edu.

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