The University of Utah Class of 2020 Deserves a Proper Commencement

The University of Utah Class of 2020 Deserves a Proper Commencement

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Lauren Gnat started this petition to President Ruth Watkins

Dear President Watkins,


We, as members of the University of Utah Class of 2020 and its close affiliates, want to thank you for your leadership, poise, attentiveness, flexibility, urgency, and guidance throughout this unprecedented time that has required quick action amidst an uncertain trajectory. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only the members of our immediate University of Utah community but has also affected households, institutions, and businesses all over the world. We understand that these decisions are accompanied by enormous pressure, and we are grateful for the steps you and the rest of the administration have taken to safeguard the best interest of the broader University of Utah community.


We are writing this petition in response to the U of U Commencement Committee email message on March 31, 2020, regarding the proposed options for a replacement Commencement. As you may understand, the University of Utah 2020 class and its affiliates – including parents, guardians, close relatives, and friends – are deeply disappointed by this information. While the options provided were in the best effort to find a solution, we don't feel these solutions are adequate enough to celebrate the class of 2020s achievements.  


As the administration considers how to proceed, we ask that you pay special attention to the unusually disruptive events that have left the Class of 2020 feeling deeply disillusioned and disappointed with the end of our University of Utah experience. We strongly request that you consider the following solution:

Commencement is a unique rite of passage, and the Class of 2020 deserves an arrangement that carries an equal significance to what Commencement has historically symbolized. 


Therefore, we ask that the University postpone Commencement to later in the summer before the fall semester begins. Then the University should host a full commencement weekend for the Class of 2020 which will allow all students to walk and celebrate their accomplishments. Due to the celebratory nature of this event, it should contain a full schedule that replicates the traditional Commencement and Commencement-related activities. These activities include department ceremonies, a full University General Commencement Ceremony in the Huntsman Center, as well as other Senior events. We believe this solution would give the Class of 2020 the opportunity to end our University of Utah careers on a significantly more positive note rather than a deeply disappointing and disillusioned one. 


However, we recognize that it is likely that a summer Commencement might be difficult to pull off. If Commencement must be postponed until Spring of 2021, we urge the University to bring the Class of 2020 back to campus before the beginning of the fall semester. Since the University announced its decision to move to online classes after spring break, many, if not most, students did not have the chance to say goodbye to their friends, professors, and mentors. We were unexpectedly uprooted from our communities without the ability to gain closure, and we are left with a great feeling of loss and despair. The thought of not seeing our friends for over a year seems deeply unsettling. The Class of 2020 needs closure before moving on to the next stage of our lives. By bringing the Class of 2020 back to campus in late July or early August (possibly at the time when we come to move out), graduating seniors might find some sense of closure to their University of Utah experience, even if it is not directly tied to Commencement.

These recommendations will allow the Class of 2020 to rekindle the class and school spirit that has been dampened by the turmoil of the past few weeks – the same spirit that will fuel our involvement in reunions and alumni engagement in the future. We sincerely hope that you strongly consider this solution. Furthermore, we urge you to make your decision in direct consultation with the Class of 2020 and our loved ones. Thank you again for expertly guiding the University of Utah community through this unprecedentedly challenging moment. We wish you and your loved ones health, safety, and warm thoughts in these turbulent times.

Go Utes!

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!