UW 2020 Commencement

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Setareh Rock
Setareh Rock signed this petition

Dear Ana Mari Cauce, 

It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to start this petition. These past few weeks have been the most uncertain of many of our lives. The prospect of an in-person graduation has served as a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for many students in the Class of 2020 who have worked so hard to make it to this point. It has been our hope that in some way, this ceremony would make up for the countless hardships this novel virus has presented us with. We were hopeful that the University of Washington would follow the path of the various other universities who simply postponed their commencement ceremonies until late summer or fall, most notably UCLA which reconsidered their decision after significant student backlash. We had faith that our university would take a similar stance, upholding the one remaining milestone the class of 2020 has left.

In addition to UCLA, here are a few other examples of universities who made similar plans for their graduation ceremonies:

USC - “The celebration will take place when travel and large group events once again become safe. We will continue to be in communication with more detailed information in the coming weeks and are committed to ensuring our graduates are celebrated for their accomplishments”
WSU - postponed until August 8, 2020
Seattle U- postponed until October 9-11, 2020
SDSU - postponed until December 17-20, 2020
And many other universities have followed similar actions.

It is understandable that these times are extremely fluid and decisions can be changed at any moment, but based on the examples set by other universities, it is clear that a sooner commencement could be possible and we do not want it to be ruled out just yet. Although giving the Class of 2020 the opportunity to join the Class of 2021’s graduation was a nice sentiment, it is minimizing the unique hardships the Class of 2020 has encountered, and will continue to encounter, as a result of the societal changes this virus has brought about. In addition, the physical capacity constraints of Husky Stadium would not accommodate two graduating classes and their families. For a university that encourages its students to speak up for what they believe in and prides itself on a strong university community, we are disappointed that we were not given the chance to have a say in this decision. 

The members of the Class of 2020 request that you consider the following solution. We propose that the traditional Commencement weekend take place at a later date, preferably between mid-August and mid-September if the global COVID-19 pandemic has reached a state deemed safe for a gathering of this size. If not by August or September, we still ask for sometime in the fall or winter. We request the full schedule of traditional Commencement and Commencement-related activities. The opportunity to celebrate the success of our class with our families, friends and loved ones is treasured and we simply ask that you reconsider the joint celebration because as we’ve learned from this experience, there is no guarantee for what the future holds. 

Please don’t let this be the lasting memory we have of our cherished alma mater. If this university truly values students as its first priority, you will reconsider this decision.


A Letter from a Member of the Class of 2020