Allow ALL Duke seniors to enter the testing protocol to attend their own graduation

Allow ALL Duke seniors to enter the testing protocol to attend their own graduation

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Matthew Cone started this petition to President Vincent Price and

The Duke Commencement website reads, “Congratulations Class of 2021! On May 2, your hard work at Duke culminates with all the pomp and circumstance your accomplishment deserves. (Appropriately distanced, of course).” However, the pomp and circumstance will not be awarded to all of those in Class of 2021 who have worked just as hard for the same accomplishment.

Duke has decided to not allow graduating seniors who were not in the Duke surveillance testing program to graduate with their classmates. This means that if a senior graduated early or took the Spring semester remotely (whether it be for finances or personal reasons), they are not allowed to experience one of the most memorable moments of their lifetimes with their friends and classmates of four years.

This is absolutely cruel and follows no logic. Why should Duke punish those that posed no threat to campus this Spring by not giving these seniors the opportunity to attend their own graduation? Why should Duke not allow these seniors the opportunity to enter testing protocol prior to graduation so they can ensure they are safe? 

Many of these seniors would not have made the choices they made if they knew it would forbid them from their own graduation ceremony. They made their decisions with the promise that they could walk with their classmates, and it wasn’t until March 2—two months before the new graduation date—that Duke broke this promise without warning or consultation of these seniors.

It should be noted that Duke has set a precedent for protocol for students coming to campus this Spring. Under the initial spring guidelines, students returning to Durham at the start of the spring semester were asked to quarantine for 10 days before traveling. Additionally, traveling students were “strongly encouraged” to receive a COVID-19 test within five days before arriving in Durham. Upon arriving in Durham, students were given tests and asked to sequester until a negative test result was returned. Immediately after this sequester period, students were able to attend in-person classes.

Furthermore, Duke permits necessary travel outside Durham. Any student departing the Durham area must notify Student Affairs and complete a Notification to Leave Campus Form. The Duke Compact states that, “Student Affairs asks that precautions are taken and that students follow Student Health Instructions upon return.” An email sent out to undergraduates on March 10 outlines current guidance for students returning from travel to Durham, stating: “Every undergraduate living on- or off-campus returning from travel this week must sequester in their room or apartments until they have cleared two rounds of surveillance testing, including the 48-hour notification period following the second test.” Duke presents a pathway for traveling students to rejoin protocol, campus life, and in-person classes. Duke’s decision to prevent graduating seniors from returning under similar protocol is beyond comprehension. 

After a long personal anecdote about how much graduation meant to us, we emailed a Duke administrator this proposal, and we were met with a swift, apathetic dismissal of these ideas. Perhaps this petition will change his mind.

We are not requesting that Duke endanger graduating seniors by allowing December graduates and virtual students to return to Durham without proper protocol. We are simply requesting that Duke creates a safe pathway students can utilize to rejoin the testing protocol and participate in graduation. We are asking Duke to just give these seniors the opportunity to attend their own graduation by allowing them to re-enter protocol in the week prior to May 2.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!
At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!