Graduating seniors react to commencement ceremony being postponed until December

To appease graduating seniors whose May commencement was cancelled, PNW is inviting them to participate in fall graduation next December. The reaction so far has been cool.

“The school changing the date is a nice gesture, but my senior year was robbed, essentially,” said Kathleen Franklin. “I know many people moving out of state who won’t be able to participate and that makes me upset. … I personally will not attend. I will be in graduate school already so I don’t see a need.”

On Tuesday, Registrar Cheryl Arroyo sent emails to graduating seniors, inviting them to participate in the December commencement ceremonies.  The May graduation was cancelled over COVID-19 concerns that resulted in the suspension of face-to-face classes through the summer.

Arroyo’s letter acknowledged the disappointment many seniors feel at missing the opportunity to get their degree certificates at public ceremonies.

“The commencement ceremony is the culmination of all your tireless hard work and persistence at Purdue Northwest and celebrates your academic accomplishments,” Arroyo wrote.  “Though many unknowns loom in the foreseeable future, we want to do our best to provide an opportunity for our graduates to be celebrated in a way that you so greatly deserve.”

While some students expressed appreciation that the university is trying to acknowledge the class of 2020, they expressed reluctance to participate in a later commencement. 

“I think it is really commendable for the university to include spring 2020 graduates with the fall 2020 commencement,” said senior Amanda Biro. “It really shows that the university recognizes how important graduation is for us. We have worked so hard for the last four years and it is sad that our commencement was delayed.

“Despite that, I do not plan to participate in the Fall 2020 commencement,” she said. “I understand that it is my chance to walk the stage and to represent all the hard work that I have done for the last four years, but it does not feel right for me. I was meant to graduate in spring 2020 and I do not want to come back another semester just to graduate. I am ready to move on with my life.”

At least one student is concerned that the December ceremonies may be cancelled, like the May commencement. 

“I’m not sure about it, because the fall is virus season,” said senior English literature major Anansi Carmichael, reflecting reports that a second wave of COVID-19 infections may sweep the nation in the fall. 

“However, I’m hopeful,” she said.