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Class of 2020 reacts to University’s commencement changes

| Thursday, April 2, 2020

University President Fr. John Jenkins announced Monday commencement for the class of 2020 will be held virtually May 17 with an on-campus celebration postponed until Memorial Day weekend 2021.

With the announcement released while the seniors of the graduating class are spread out around the world, some students felt robbed of their final goodbye to Notre Dame and their classmates. 

Senior Emily Mears said she felt disappointed and frustrated by the postponement of the formal commencement ceremony. 

“You can’t just replace [graduation] with a four day weekend that not everyone can attend, especially several months after we’ve had to mourn the end of our time with our campus and our community,” Mears said via text.

Although the on-campus celebration is far away, senior Julia Corbin said in an email that she is grateful for the opportunity to return to campus.

“The administration could have just canceled it entirely, but instead they decided to give us a weekend next spring to come back to campus and celebrate as a class, and already I am finding myself looking forward to that weekend,” Corbin said. 

Senior Miguel Romanello said that although he is indifferent about the date of the graduation ceremony, he is glad the University came out with its decision. 

“I was kind of relieved because it was kind of nice to know what the next few months were going to be like,” Romanello said. 

The rescheduling to May 2021 means some students in the class of 2020 may not be able to attend due to work, prior commitments or travel costs. Senior Charlie McDonough said that while he is looking forward to returning for the weekend, he feels he is in the minority after having conversations with his peers. 

“I live and will soon work in Chicago, so it will be a lot easier for me to go back,” McDonough said. “I think a lot of people might have cost concerns or just like personal reasons not to go.”

Romanello said he will decide at a later time if he will attend or not. 

“I think it would really depend on whether my friends were going to come since that’s probably what I’d be more interested in,” Romanello said.

The postponement also affects families of seniors who were excited to celebrate their momentous accomplishments. Mears said she does not see her parents wanting to celebrate her graduation a year after it actually occurred.

“With me entering the workforce months before Memorial Day, I don’t think my parents feel the need to make an effort to go since graduation is supposed to signal a transition into the workforce,” Mears said.  “If that transition has already occurred, there seems to be less of a reason for them or even me to attend.”

As for the May 17 online graduation service, McDonough said he is not sure if he will tune in. 

“I’m not too thrilled about it personally. It’s going to feel like opening a YouTube clip and watching another year’s graduation,” McDonough said. “I think it loses a lot of its effect when it’s not in person.”

While this new reality for graduation is not what she imagined, Corbin said it does not change her feelings regarding her college experience. 

“I am very thankful for all of my time at Notre Dame even though it ended without warning,” Corbin said. 

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as an associate news editor.

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