In-Person Graduation for Champlain College Students

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Champlain College has made the decision that graduation for the class of 2021 will be fully virtual. We, the class of 2021, are frustrated, saddened, and disenchanted by the decisions and communication surrounding May's commencement ceremony. We feel that our voices, opinions, and suggestions have been ignored. Champlain's motto is "Audeamus" or "Let Us Dare." And yet at this time, they have chosen to take the path of least resistance. We are encouraging staff, students, family, & loved ones to show their support.

One shared initial response to this message was a resounding, “If we can’t gather to have a distanced commencement ceremony, how are we able to attend in-person classes, CHAMP events, hall events, and other in-person events?” And, more broadly, “Why are we allowed to be back on-campus, participating in a strict testing pool, only to be unable to gather in celebration?” Champlain’s COVID cases have been some of the lowest of higher education institutions across the country; there have only been 16 positive cases, 12 of those being within the student body, since campus reopened on August 17th, 2020. Furthermore, students are required to participate in self-administered testing weekly, fill out a Daily Health Screening form if they are traveling to campus, and quarantine in their residences if necessary, including but not limited to quarantining for two weeks upon any return to campus from an out-of-state location. Champlain students have been some of the most responsible, COVID-conscious students in not only the state of Vermont, but in the nation as a whole.

We are not asking for anything unreasonable. We want to have an in-person ceremony, only for students who are currently part of the on-campus testing pool. 

One Vermont institution, Middlebury College, has announced its plans to hold an in-person commencement ceremony for those students on-campus, paired with a virtual ceremony for students who are learning off-campus. Middlebury College has been able to plan for this given the maximum outdoor gathering capacity of 150 people, and while Middlebury’s ceremony will look different than it traditionally does, the college is planning to move forward with a modified event in compliance with Vermont State Guidelines. Middlebury’s format is not finalized, but the institution is prioritizing an in-person event of some capacity, and we would like to believe that, given Champlain’s College’s similar size and structure to Middlebury College, we can successfully organize a similar event.