Northeastern University Graduation ceremony 2020 graduates risk of COVID Spread

Northeastern University Graduation ceremony 2020 graduates risk of COVID Spread

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Varun V started this petition to and

We are writing to express a concern that many of the students who graduated during the pandemic have. In particular, those who graduated in December 2019, April 2020, and August 2020.

We are grateful that despite all that has gone by in the past year and more Northeastern university has planned a graduation ceremony for the batch of 2020. We deeply appreciate the effort put into planning and executing this mega event. Our graduation ceremony has been postponed time and time again due to the pandemic, which of course is understandable in terms of public health and safety for Northeastern Community to postpone the graduation until it is safe to have it. The ceremony is now set to happen in November 2021, however, many of my fellow classmates have expressed concern about this timing and the overall setup for the new graduation ceremony.  It is a high risk situation with Covid-19 still affecting a rising number of affected population. We have concerns about the health of the wider Northeastern community in Boston as well as many members who would be traveling from across the US and the world to attend this ceremony potentially making it a hot bed for infecting people.

Here are some of these concerns: 

- Having the ceremony indoors now that the Delta variant is on the rise makes it a risk for students, alumni, faculty, and other employees. (many people will be traveling from all over making it more likely to spread the disease)

- Travel restrictions will prevent families of many international students to come and celebrate with them.

- Travel restrictions and current timing will also prevent international students, whose OPTs expired and who had to leave the country, to obtain visitor visas to travel to their graduation ceremony.

- It frankly feels unfair that the graduates who had to face such adversity will have to celebrate their graduation in the chosen venue when others had a chance to enjoy a ceremony in Fenway Park.

As you know, this was and still is a difficult time for recent graduates struggling to find jobs with the job market facing a crisis, companies imposing hiring freezes, and resorting to layoffs. It was especially hard for international students on OPT trying to find a job in time before their OPT would expires and they lose a chance to gain this work experience. In addition to that many international students who did use their OPT will now never have a chance to attend their ceremony because those not in STEM have only 1 year of OPT. This means their legal status has expired by now and they would need a visitor visa to attend the graduation ceremony. But due to the pandemic, they are unlikely to get their visas. 

We, the alumni, were not provided an opportunity to voice our opinions, provide feedback, or raise concerns. We were excluded from the decision making process and now many of us feel unheard. I am in no way speaking for every single graduate whose ceremony is supposed to be this November, but I know that many do share this opinion. And if Northeastern makes an effort and asks them what they think, the university will get a better sense of where these alumni stand. In the meantime, I would like to outline some options for how our concerns can be addressed: 

- Postpone the graduation ceremony to Summer next year (2022) to allow more time for international students to make travel arrangements

- If the situation has improved by then we are open to having the ceremony at an indoor facility

- If, however, there still are health concerns we would like to have the ceremony at an open-air venue

I'm hoping Northeastern University will hear the voices of its students and work with them to find a common ground. 


Northeastern Alumni

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