CWU disregards student achievement and robs seniors of graduation

Taylor Korrell, Columnist

On Jan. 21, CWU announced that the spring 2021 commencement will be held virtually. This announcement brought up various emotions of frustration, disappointment, heartbreak and despair.  

For students who have worked tirelessly for years and devoted blood, sweat, tears and money to this institution in anticipation of this one simple but important event at the end of their college journey, the thought of having a virtual ceremony is a punch to the gut.

Commencement is a significant and momentous occasion that signifies the completion of an academic journey and the success that each individual student has incurred throughout their experience as a student. 

The choice to make spring commencement virtual came months ahead of the actual ceremony, bringing up the question of how the school could know that six months later the state of the pandemic would not have progressed enough to constitute a safe and healthy in-person commencement ceremony. 

Many students brought up multiple points that negated the school’s early decision of a virtual ceremony. This premature decision makes the students and families of the CWU community wonder if this decision was made in an effort to save money and take the easy way out of the situation instead of exhausting other options for holding a safe and COVID-19 friendly in-person commencement ceremony. 

Multiple students wrote on the Instagram post announcing the virtual commencement ceremony that they are receiving or previously graduated with degrees in event planning from CWU and that through this education they have the knowledge that there are options available to make a safe in-person commencement ceremony possible. 

CWU has already announced that the graduating class will be separated into four separate virtual ceremonies. This makes me wonder why it is not possible to do four smaller in-person commencement ceremonies to make it possible to socially distance all students on the football field outside. 

After much consideration, it seems possible that CWU could continue with four separate ceremonies that could be distributed between Saturday, June 12 and Sunday, June 13. This way all the students could remain socially distanced, all students could be required to wear masks to further protect all participants and each student could be permitted a specific number of guests to attend the ceremony so that all guests can accurately and safely be spaced when watching their student graduate. The ceremonies take place outside on the football field which already provides a safer environment that is pandemic-friendly. 

There is even the option to have each student that wants to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony be tested for COVID-19 prior to the ceremony. It is also important to note that by June 12 the majority of high-risk individuals will have been vaccinated and the vaccine will have been distributed to many more individuals than we are currently seeing. 

I want to thoroughly encourage CWU to reconsider their decision to make spring 2021 commencement virtual and instead reevaluate how they could make an in-person ceremony possible. Making this ceremony virtual in a tremendous disservice to all graduating students of spring 2021 as well as their families. 

Throughout every student’s trials and tribulations in their college experience they have looked forward to the final goal of having their family and friends celebrate their success and accomplishments with them as they celebrate with their fellow students at their commencement ceremony. Graduating from college is a significant accomplishment and milestone for not only students but their families. These families have been beside their students helping to encourage and support them in their journeys. 

As a first-generation college student and student worker myself, this decision of a virtual commencement ceremony is disheartening to me as well as my family. 

CWU, please do not rob all of these students that gave you years of hard work, tuition, effort, and their lives of one simple but monumental occasion when there are other possible options to make a safe and healthy in-person spring 2021 commencement ceremony.