Let University of Richmond Class of 2020 Plan Commencement Services

Let University of Richmond Class of 2020 Plan Commencement Services

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Morgan Trahan started this petition to Dr. Ronald A. Crutcher and

The University of Richmond has postponed commencement services due to the COVID-19 outbreak amplifying across the country. Commencement weekend activities were scheduled to be held on the weekend of May 8-10 of 2020. President Crutcher stated in his email to students on March 16th that the Class of 2020 would be celebrated later in the year. He also stated, "I and other University leaders will do everything we can to reunite you on campus and celebrate your many accomplishments and your unique place in University history as soon as we can." 

Many other universities across the country have been in constant contact with students and their families as the days transpired since the decisions to cancel commencement services were made. Constant updates have been provided and university leaders are seeking feedback from students on how they can best honor the Class of 2020. Since Richmond is a small school, we do not hold a winter commencement ceremony like larger higher education institutions. Many of our fellow classmates were scheduled to move around the globe within days of the planned commencement. Job offers have been made and the next chapter of our lives has already started in some ways. No one could have predicted this would be the outcome, but this is the reality. 

As seniors at the University of Richmond, our final goodbyes and moments were taken away from us. Several goodbyes were left unsaid. With the abrupt cancellation of athletic events, spring sports teams were unable to honor and celebrate the accomplishments of senior athletes during traditional Senior Day ceremonies. The Arts and Sciences Symposium will also not place this year, nor will the Arts and Sciences Honors Convocation. Senior theses for various degrees will not be able to be defended in person. Members of the performing arts community will not have their hard work showcased in the end. Senior dinners such as the Westhampton College Awards and Robins School of Business Senior Dinner will not occur. 

Commencement weekend traditionally includes several events including the senior celebration, various departmental receptions, award ceremonies through different colleges, the candlelight ceremony, baccalaureate, the graduation buffet in the HDC, and finally, the graduation walk leading up to the main commencement ceremony. All of these traditions deserve to be held for the Class of 2020. In addition to traditional commencement weekend activities, other final moments need to be factored into commencement weekend including Senior Day Sports Celebrations, Research Presentations, Thesis Dissertations, and Award Ceremonies. 

We propose that a student committee be assembled to plan the Class of 2020's final commencement weekend. The Class of 2020 should have the strongest voice in determining how final exercises proceed. By assembling a student committee, our final wishes can become a reality. Currently, this is a very unique situation that universities across the country are facing. While compromises will inevitably have to be made, our hard work still warrants us the ability to have our final traditions as a class. Plans for final exercises should be determined with the feedback from the Class of 2020 and their families. Logistically, this will be hard to accomplish, therefore it is crucial that university officials take into consideration feedback from graduating seniors.

Since classes are moved permanently online for the duration of the semester, Zoom can be utilized to have meetings with students remotely to discuss potential commencement plans. Respective deans from Richmond College, Westhampton College, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, and the Robins School of Business can also provide contacts and input on how we can devise a solution that best fits the needs of the Class of 2020 as a whole.

We deserve more than just to receive our diplomas. As members of the university community for the last four years, we are entitled to all of the final moments that classes before have received as they said goodbye to the place they have called home for the last four years. A simple commencement ceremony or gathering will not give the Class of 2020 the closure they deserve. Throughout the years we have preserved through hard times as a class and handled these tough situations with tenacity and determination. Graduating seniors have poured countless hours of hard work into their degrees. Every student deserves to experience commencement weekend and to walk across the stage in the Robins Center knowing their Richmond experience was not cut short. 

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