FPU’S 2nd Virtual Commencement Ceremony
As this semester wraps up, many seniors are looking forward to closing their laptops for the last time in their collegiate journey. But they may need to leave them open a few hours longer if they want to celebrate their graduation.
Fresno State University and Fresno Unified School District have announced that they are holding in-person graduations for their seniors earlier this month, with modifications to follow in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines. Earlier this semester, Fresno Pacific announced that they would be hosting a virtual ceremony for their seniors, even though other universities have been planning for in-person graduations. FPU’s statement reveals that their decision is based on “state and federal recommendations regarding large gatherings due to COVID-19.”
Since FPU has announced this second virtual commencement, many seniors have expressed their frustrations about not having an in-person graduation while others have become disenchanted about graduating. An FPU student, Samantha Diaz, created a petition challenging FPU’s decision about a virtual ceremony. If you would like to participate and sign up for this petition you can find the link at the end of this article.
When asked about whether FPU should hold an in-person commencement ceremony, FPU graduating senior Maricarmen Mata-Nunez, a first generation student majoring in Criminal Justice stated, “Definitely!! If they need more time to organize, I’m willing to wait.”
Governor Newsom has outlined California’s next steps in reopening up the economy, which states that the entire state could potentially reopen on June 15, albeit with safety guidelines in place. Therefore, FPU can potentially hold off on hosting a ceremony later on in the summer in order to provide seniors the ceremony they deserve.
Samantha Diaz, the creator of the aforementioned petition, has similar hopes: “Since California is planning to FULLY reopen on June 15th, I think it would be well worthwhile to reschedule our graduation ceremony a month later for the opportunity to celebrate in-person alongside our friends and professors.”
DJ Maxwell-Garcia, a first generation Kinesiology major, stated that “I think it is good because it allows family members that would have a more difficult time to be a part of commencement. However, it is bad because it just seems lazy” when asked about the virtual ceremony.
Holding graduations online simultaneously could be something to think about for future ceremonies, at least after COVID restrictions have been lifted, in order to provide family members from far away places the opportunity to view the proceedings. Holding events online has been easier for those who are far away from us,but it still runs the risk of making it impersonal. We are not able to share hugs and take pictures with family members in our graduation caps and gown.
When asked if their family would be watching the virtual ceremony, which will be hosted on the 8th of May, an anonymous first generation graduating senior stated, “Most likely not, as we see no significance in watching something in which my name is only going to be mentioned for a second.”
Out of the 11 seniors that were interviewed for this article, five confirmed that their family members would not be watching the virtual ceremony. Unfortunately, watching the ceremony online won’t hold as much importance to some family members than it would have with an in-person celebration.
Matthew Wilfong, a Contemporary Chirstian Ministries and Business Management Major graduating senior, also commented on FPU’s hosting of a virtual commencement: “I think it is the easy way out, but, honestly, I do not care all that much.”
Has COVID affected the way students are viewing their success of graduating college? Have college celebrations and support affected the way students and families view their success in graduating college? Regardless of what kind of celebration the university holds, we must continue to celebrate and encourage those who will graduate after four years of hard work and obstacles.
Students who avoided becoming a statistic, and those who overcame the obstacles that being a first generation brings, ought to remember the wonderful memories of their time here and the relationships that they made. We at the Syrinx offer our congratulations to the class of 2021.
Student-Created Petition Challenging FPU’s Decision about a virtual commencement ceremony:
Author: Sheyla Castillo | A&E Co-Editor