Florida Tech Petition for In-Person Graduation
Florida Tech Petition for In-Person Graduation
To whom it may concern,
Florida Tech has moved Spring Class of 2021 Commencement fully virtual. This comes both as a surprise and is a huge disappointment for the graduating class. This pandemic has been around for over a year and although it has been unpredictable and unprecedented, as a nation we have been handling the second wave much better. To fully make the Spring 2021 Commencement Ceremony virtual is premature and unacceptable.
Florida Tech has had a “Florida Tech Safe Plan” in place since the Fall 2020 semester started. This initiative has allowed for in person classes, events, student organization meetings, and athletics to be conducted in a safe manner. The graduation commencement should be no different in planning an event that is both feasible and beneficial to the students. Creating the event to follow the “Florida Tech Safe Plan” is important for the community so here are some proposed ways that will allow the event to take place safely and in person.
A large worry for the administration and Pandemic Response Team would be travel of families onto campus to attend the ceremony. That is why the Florida Tech student body is proposing this petition to accommodate the graduates, on campus and off, and their families. It is possible for graduation to be held outdoors, socially distanced, contactless, masked, and separated by college. Only current graduates and necessary staff members shall be in attendance. Current graduates located outside of Melbourne, Fl, shall have the option to submit a photo to be shown on the live stream as their name is said by the speaker. To lessen possible complications during the in-person event, a fully virtual event could be considered for graduates attending virtually. In order to avoid any risks of COVID exposure from students who plan to travel to Melbourne, Florida for the in-person event, these students will be required to quarantine 2 weeks directly prior to the event. The graduation shall be streamed to allow the graduate’s family members and friends and other Florida Tech students to watch the ceremony from a remote location. The school has many outdoor locations which can be used, Crawford Greens, the VTC Athletic Facilities, Olin Greens, and Panther Plaza; the school could even opt to rent Panther Bay Stadium. In the event of rain, indoor seating in venues to be utilized are Gleason Auditorium and Clemente Center. Whether outdoor or indoor seating, each masked student can be placed 6 ft apart. For the stage ceremony, the process can be done without any contact. The school can distribute the diploma sleeves before the graduation and the graduates will bring them on stage when they go to walk. Students will be able to pose for a photo by President McCay (who will also be masked), after that photo they can move to the end of the stage ( > 6 ft) away from anyone and get an opportunity to pose with or without their mask for the photographer. This process allows for the experience of graduation without any contact and in a COVID-19 safe manner.
In Dr. McCay’s video message sent out on Friday February 26, 2021, he stated only a couple reasons why an in-person graduation is “not viable.” The first reason was not wanting families to come onto campus and attend a graduation. Most families understand they will not be able to attend a graduation ceremony if there is one. Many parents and families only wish to see their graduate walk across the stage to receive their degree. The live-streamed, graduate only option solves that issue. The second concern which Dr. McCay presented is it a lot of work for the staff that normally plans graduation. Although the graduation could arise other unforeseen difficulties, the workload would be shared amongst many and be bearable. It is also possible that a “Graduation Task Force” of graduating seniors could assist in any additional work needed to help make this in-person ceremony successful. Graduating seniors and Florida Tech have overcome many adversities this past year and to give the students a chance to share their successes and pride for their Alma Mater is something every institution strives for.
Considering the hardships these graduates have faced in the last years of their college careers, the student body would like to unite to provide them with this alternative in-person graduation. In the past year the seniors have witnessed two classes of graduates, many of which were close friends, miss out on their chance to celebrate their achievements through an in-person graduation ceremony. Considering the success that Florida Tech has experienced hosting in-person, on campus events this past year there are high hopes they will be able to extend this success to an in-person graduation. Not only has the school successfully hosted large events such as Freshman Orientation, holding the majority of the incoming freshman class in Clemente socially distanced, but has also hosted a Drake Bell concert in Clemente with around 400 students in attendance thanks to Student Life. The elimination of spring break has taken a toll on many students at Florida Tech but was sacrificed in order to better protect the Florida Tech community. With this elimination many students had hoped that their diligent following of these COVID guidelines put in place by the school would help to ensure the possibility for an in-person graduation. Allowing for this ceremony to take place gives Florida Tech a chance to showcase its ability to adapt and support it’s students. The school thus far has adapted to “hybrid” teaching which has been a learning curve for both students and professors. At Florida Tech the staff and students have worked endlessly to overcome challenges like these brought on by the COVID pandemic. The student body hopes that this semester’s graduation will be no exception. Following the lead of other schools such as University of Central Florida, Florida State University, University of Florida, Clemson, The University of Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Kean University who have all made in-person graduation events possible we hope that Florida Tech joins the list.
The graduating class of Spring 2021 would like to ask you to sign this petition to show your faith in Florida Tech’s ability to host an in-person ceremony, and show your support and recognition for the graduating classes that have worked tirelessly over the past several years to showcase their achievements