Class of 2020 to return to campus for 2021

One of the larger questions facing higher education during the coronavirus pandemic is what to do about graduation ceremonies. 

Widener University in Pennsylvania has made the decision to postpone its class of 2020 graduation ceremony by an entire year, to May 2021, an entire year later. Many students in the class of 2020 may not be able to attend due to military deployment, graduate school, work, or other unforeseen plans.

“It feels like such a slap in the face and way too convenient of a decision for Widener rather than consulting the seniors at all,” Taylor Young, class of 2020, told Campus Reform. “I absolutely refuse to step on the toes of the class of 2021,” she added, pointing out that both ceremonies will be held on the same day.

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Nursing student Katya Sadek was set to graduate this year. She told Campus Reform that the decision to postpone graduation was “premature.”

“Many of us nursing majors are concerned with getting off work to attend,” Sadek said. “In addition, our school of nursing is postponing our Nightingale Ceremony to 2021 as well, so we feel like we got duped out of any chance at celebrating.”

 “I feel like it was premature to postpone it an entire year, I wish we could have a ceremony at widener like we used to,” she added.

In addition to the ceremony being postponed, it has also been scheduled for the same day, and at the same venue, as the class of 2021’s ceremony. This fact is a point of contention for students as well, who say that the two classes shouldn’t have to share the same day.

Meghan Bell is part of the class set to graduate in 2021. She told Campus Reform, “it’s not fair to the students to focus on two graduation groups when the day should be spent focusing on one class.”

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“I want my own special day,” said Jane Reminger, class of 2021.

Many students feel that making the two ceremonies on the same day will take away the value of each class. However, there are some who are trying to stay optimistic.

Bobby Eriane, who sits on the senior class committee, is working to make sure each class will have its own special memories.

“There will be events that separate the class of 2020 from the class of 2021, too. I appreciate all the hard work that our university has put forth to try to make up for what was a los[t]” said Eraine.

Michaela Kolenkiewicz, class of 2020, shared, “we need to look at the bright side: graduation is not canceled and they are celebrating us virtually on May 16th of this year still!”

Owen Thoma, class of 2021, is excited about the two ceremonies being on the same day, “I think it would be a lot of fun to have two classes graduate at the same time. Especially being friends with the class above, it would be a more exciting event.”

The class of 2020 will still receive their diplomas upon finishing the spring semester but will have to wait to walk. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: Mickey Mertz