Commencement for majority of students is a once in a lifetime event. Such a huge accomplishment should be celebrated and hosted in-person with family and firends during commencement. St. Catherine University is not doing an in-person event, and a virtual event undermines the extension work and sacrifices all students and their families have made in order for them to complete their degree. I am the first family member of my immediate and extended family to receive a graduate degree, and being able to celebrate in-person and walk is a once in a lifetime opportunity that cannot be fulfilled virtually.
I, along with all of the other students graduating this year, will never be able to recreate this moment or milestone in our lives. We are requesting that St. Catherine University reconsider and change the virtual commencement into an in-person event. Several other universities in our state of Minnesota are planning for an in-person commencement and doing what it takes to ensure safety and enough time for all students, even those from 2020 who did not get a commencement, a day and time to walk. Please see the list of those universities and the commencement plans they have made in order to conduct in-person walks:
- University of St. Thomas
- Bethel University
- Macalester College
- Hamline University
- College of Scholastica
- St. Olaf
- Concordia University
If these similar institutions are able to create and plan for a safe in-person commencement, St. Catherine University can too. It is not too late to make an in-person commencement. This is critical event, I am sure students and their families and friends will make the new dates work to attend to any new changes. Lastly, below are some potential recommendations and resolutions for creating an in-person event:
- Extend beyond two days, and separate by class and major as needed based on number of graduates
- Conduct it outside and/or limit to only two family members in attendance
- Require masks and/or COVID tests if needed
- Provide an option for students to not attend in-person if they prefer not too (just like regular commencement, students may decide not to attend their commencement)
Again, these are just potential alternatives. I was really hoping that the committee eventually transitioned to an in-person commencement, but it looks like that is not being considered anymore. I hope you reconsider and provide us, the students, and our families and friends the once in a lifetime opportunity to walk after completing our extensive and important education here at St. Catherine University. With over a month and a half left, we can still prepare for an in-person event and change plans.