Commencement alterations impact spring, summer and fall graduates


File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

Fall 2019 winter commencement marked the first time the university split commencement into two ceremonies. For Fall 2020 winter commencement, not only will the ceremonies occur over two days, but they will be split into four separate ceremonies. This semester’s commencement will honor Spring, Summer and Fall 2020 graduates.

After having neither a Spring or Summer 2020 commencement ceremony, the university has developed plans to honor those graduates through an in-person winter ceremony at Strawberry Stadium in December, along with Fall 2020 graduating seniors.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, students within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences will graduate at 10 a.m., and students within the College of Business will graduate at 2 p.m. On Wednesday, Dec. 9, College of Nursing & Health Sciences students will graduate in the morning ceremony, and Colleges of Education and of Science & Technology will graduate in the afternoon at the same respective times.

In addition, graduates have been asked to invite a maximum of two guests.

Margaret Romano, a kinesiology major and Fall 2020 graduating senior, commented on all of the changes.

“I’m sad that I am only allowed two guests to watch me graduate, but I’m also happy that I actually get to walk across the stage,” shared Romano. “I agree with the changes. I think it’s great to have it outside in Strawberry Stadium, and separating it into four ceremonies and limiting the number of people will lessen the risk of there being an increase in cases.”

Romano is happy to be able to walk across the stage and receive her diploma, regardless of the fact that Fall 2020 graduates will share the ceremony with seniors from the spring and summer semesters.

“I will be the first to graduate college in my family, so for me, it’s a huge deal,” expressed Romano. “I’m very happy that spring and summer graduates get the chance to come back and walk across the stage. I know it can mean a lot for some people, and I feel that everyone should have that opportunity.”

Parker Gunter, a criminal justice major and Fall 2020 graduating senior, believes that commencement should be broken up into more than four separate ceremonies.

“This day is about these seniors, and the SELU staff would not be tasked too much to break them up more so that more than two people can go for each graduate,” claimed Gunter. “It makes a lot of people make decisions of who should go that they shouldn’t have to make.”

Kamille Edmonston completed her bachelor’s degree in marketing over the Summer 2020 semester. She feels not much has been done to honor Spring and Summer 2020 graduates, and that the changes to the winter commencement ceremony do not benefit her personally.

“I think it’s upsetting to those graduating that there will now be a joint ceremony during the week with only two family members at best,” expressed Edmonston. “I am not attending because I have a blended family and will not choose who gets to see me receive a diploma that I already received in the mail, and second, it’s during the week — the weekend would have worked better for all parties.”

Janine Hatcher, Miss Southeastern 2020, Spring 2020 alumna and current MBA candidate at the university, is excited that she and the other graduates finally get to walk across the stage. She believes the plans for winter commencement are necessary in order to ensure the safety of the graduates, their families and faculty and staff.

“Our university is doing a phenomenal job ensuring that we take the adequate steps in maintaining that health,” expressed Hatcher. “Although it may be disappointing for students who wanted to have more family members physically present at the ceremony, I believe that, overall, families understand the situation we’re navigating and can appreciate all of the effort put in to make this happen.”

Hatcher commented on the joint ceremonies for her graduating class in addition to the Summer and Fall 2020 semester graduates.

“I don’t think any one person’s success takes away from another’s,” shared Hatcher. “If anything, my sentiment towards them is congratulatory and proud. They’ve earned their moment like everyone else has, and I think any graduate would be happy to witness the achievement and perseverance of another peer.”