The campus community received word via an email from President Abernathy that as long as COVID-19 cases on campus and in Michigan remain low, the graduating class will have an in-person commencement ceremony on May 1, 2021 outdoors and on campus.
Many seniors are grateful for the opportunity to have an in-person commencement ceremony, especially since the class of 2020 had a virtual commencement last July.
“I think that it’s awesome that we actually get a ceremony to celebrate our efforts and [our] time commitment,” said Savana Shellman (‘21).
“I am glad the administration finally told us the plan [regarding commencement], and hope they keep us informed during the next few weeks,” said Elizabeth Flatoff (‘21).
Due to commencement being over a month and a half away, it is unsure whether or not guests will be permitted to attend the in-person ceremony, and if so, how many.
“It would just be nice to know if we are allowed to bring guests or not sooner rather than later,” said Nolan Kukla (‘21).
“I wouldn’t be [upset] if we can’t have guests, but I’d rather just know. Some people’s parents work weekends and would have to take time off. Additionally, some parents might have to make travel plans and I’m sure it would be better if they figured it out sooner rather than later.”
According to President Abernathy, the wait on the decision to have guests is due to health department regulations on attendees based on the type and size of an event.
“I am open to visitors, [but] it would be amazing if people could get tested before coming to [commencement],” said Michelle Malkowski (‘21).
“I think [that would] give everyone peace of mind.”
“[If guests are allowed at commencement], I think [they] should be limited in order to not have an outbreak on campus,” said Shellman.
A decision regarding guests will be made in the coming weeks but regardless of the outcome, commencement will be livestreamed for people unable to attend.
In the email sent out to campus by President Abernathy, he also reminded graduating seniors to order their caps and gowns from Jostens before the deadline on Mar. 20. Many seniors have issues with the price of the caps and gowns.
“I just think that over 80 dollars for a basic cap and gown is excessive,” said Flatoff.
“I know the school is going through a third party to get them, but especially during this time where guests aren’t guaranteed for graduation, 80 bucks is a lot to drop on a piece of fabric I am using once.”
A graduating senior who wished to remain anonymous also had an issue with the price of the caps and gowns through Jostens.
“Caps and gowns are advertised as $70, but with taxes and shipping it’s $87,” said anonymous.
“That is almost $100 to walk at [a] graduation that we have been working for for years.”
With the pandemic, many students have been unable to return to off-campus jobs during the school year, due to the campus COVID-19 policy of not traveling outside the greater Alma area.
“So many students typically work off-campus as opposed to on-campus,” said anonymous.
“With a limited number of on-campus jobs, how do you expect full time students to just find the money to pay for this? It feels as though this is just another disadvantage that students with no financial support from [their] families have to constantly face.”
Regardless of the protocol and what is to come, the spring 2021 graduating class have an in-person commencement ceremony to look forward to following the end of the winter semester.
“I’m glad the college is actually putting on a ceremony for us; [it feels] like our senior year has just revolved around COVID-19,” said Shellman.