I am graduating this year and i would really prefer an in person graduation. Also with Covid 19 it definitely is financially difficult for students to scrape money to buy many things and it would suck not to be able to afford a cap and gown.
Dorcas Owusu, Newark, NJ, United States
8 months ago
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Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway announced on February 11th that Spring Commencement ceremonies will be virtual across the University. There are simply too many graduating students, specifically at the New Brunswick campus, to hold enough altered in-person graduation ceremonies for everyone. What ensued next was great frustration and confusion among our student body. Students were angry that there had been no student input in the decision. The Student Governing Association assembled a diverse group of students vocal on the issue, of which the only SGA Member was our Vice President, to meet with key Senior Vice Chancellors. During the meeting on February 19th, the group began arguing for the Newark Campus' autonomy in the matter, citing Kean University's and Montclair University's plans for in-person ceremonies - both of which are also public institutions and have a similar student population to Rutgers-Newark. The bottom line is that certain Scarlet students cannot be afforded a graduation and others not - this would be inequitable, whether based on campus or school. We accept this. The Senior Vice Chancellors genuinely listened to the group and were receptive of other ideas. We understand this is a difficult decision from an administrative perspective, especially for our campus' team. However, our students deserve more than a virtual slideshow to honor the time they spent at Rutgers and all their achievements. In preparation for the Student-led State of the Campus Address held February 3rd, graduation was the topic that received the most feedback. Messaging about more graduation portrait slots will go out soon. Given that President Holloway directed each campus to explore the best ways to honor their students, we, the Rutgers-Newark student body, demand that our campus provide us with free graduation apparel and the additional option of an in-person stage for our students to symbolically walk across and have photos taken. Last year, graduating students paid full price for their graduation apparel. Rutgers-Newark does not have to book the Prudential Center - saving money. There is no excuse this year because we know from the get-go that commencement will be virtual. Whether a stage, or multiple stages are constructed in Samuel's Plaza or on the Frederick Douglass Field, the student body would greatly appreciate this optional opportunity. Students will follow all social distancing protocols if afforded this opportunity. To account for the lack of guests, the stage(s) can be livestreamed throughout the day. This is a plan that is feasible to implement. There would be a plethora of student volunteers willing to help and I offer my services to coordinate as needed. On March 3rd, Rutgers Newark administration sent out an email to update the student body and encourage more input from students. I urge you to not just sign this petition, but also express these demands to RUNgraduation2021@rutgers.edu from your student email. Please also email any ideas for events to replace the traditional senior barbecue. Even if you are not graduating this spring, you can do the same to support those who are. In Solidarity, Dylan Terpstra - RU-N SGA President