More than 16,000 parents and students at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) recently signed a petition asking UNR authorities to postpone the graduation, while rejecting any “virtual” alternative to the traditional ceremony.
Fortunately for those concerned, UNR has listened to them. The university’s president, Marc Johnson, offered them the choice of holding a graduation in December 2020 or in spring 2021. This would be separate from the ceremony for those students scheduled to finish on that date.
“In an attempt to give you something this spring, we offered a virtual commencement. This was rejected by our student leaders and graduating students,” Johnson said in a letter sent on Mar. 27 in reference to the petition. After announcing the new options he added that “The level of interest by graduates in which ceremony they choose will help us determine the details of planning a memorable in-person experience for you and your family. You deserve to have a unique time to share the joy of your achievement and the bonds of this trying experience.”
To begin the planning, this Monday, Apr. 13 UNR shared a survey on Twitter for students, along with their families, to choose their preferred date.
The option for an in-person graduation instead of a virtual one was the goal for Michael Hanna, a senior at UNR, who created the petition to postpone the Spring 2020 graduation ceremony after students rejected the alternative virtual commencement. Through his efforts, thousands of people expressed their concerns and how truly upset they felt about the situation brought forth by the coronavirus pandemic.
UNR traditionally hosts its annual graduation ceremonies after fall or spring semesters. Most students at UNR look forward to the event, especially during a beautiful springtime day when commencement takes place in the quad on campus.
However, due to COVID-19, graduation ceremonies around the country have either been canceled, postponed or a decision has yet to be announced by the institution, according to U.S. News and World Report.
However, here in Reno – all over the state –, many raised their voices to criticize the option of a “virtual graduation.” They wanted an event that lived up to their expectations since many had spent money to buy a cap and gown and even paid a graduation fee.
While UNR’s leaders have announced an updated option for a future graduation, there is still uncertainty as to whether this is a better alternative during this pandemic.
Nevertheless, the successful postponement efforts affirmed what students already felt: That a virtual option “is not what the class of 2020 deserves.” President Johnson agreed.
“You deserve to have a unique time to share the joy of your achievement and the bonds of this trying experience,” he said.
Additional reporting by Claudia Cruz.