In-person ceremony for spring graduates is feasible

Razia Islam

After countless semesters of grueling studies, internships, part-time jobs and clubs it is only right to want a day dedicated to all the hardships students have overcome. Attending one’s graduation ceremony is often a dream that’s eagerly anticipated. With the COVID-19 pandemic, this dream came to a sudden halt.

For the class of 2021, Baruch College held a virtual, pre-recorded commencement ceremony for over 5,600 students. Many students were not pleased with this decision, and rightfully so.

While spring 2022’s graduation has yet to be finalized, Baruch should acknowledge that it is entirely possible to hold an in-person ceremony.

Academic institutions all over the country have been bombarded with question after question about graduation. Many universities and colleges have toyed with the logistics of in-person ceremonies as COVID-19 cases slow in growth.

With graduation coming up in a few months, upcoming graduates are kept out of the loop regarding their ceremony, and the air of uncertainty surrounding the topic only gets stronger as each day passes.

The severity of the pandemic is finally reducing with the launch of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many even say that for New York City the pandemic is shifting to become more of an endemic.

While there has been a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks, most likely due to the upcoming cold holiday season, hospitalization rates and average death rates have been declining.

This just goes to show the effectiveness of the vaccine and the slow build-up of immunity with 74.5% of the city’s residents being vaccinated, as reported by The City.

The pandemic has opened the doors to growing accessibility and inclusivity, which is why Baruch should take advantage of this new technological era and offer students the opportunity to choose between attending an in-person ceremony or joining the ceremony online.

It’s safe to say that although many students would enjoy an in-person ceremony, this is not the case for everyone. Many, reasonably, are skeptical of social gatherings even with precautions set in place. For many others, traveling is currently not an option.

By having a hybrid ceremony, students will be able to make the call for themselves. Many students were upset that the spring 2021 graduation ceremony was pre-recorded. This hybrid ceremony will alleviate this concern and ensure that at the very least students will be able to attend a livestream.

Many universities and colleges have already implemented these “hybrid graduations” so it would not be too challenging for Baruch to hold one. Hybrid graduations allow students, family and friends to enjoy the ceremony regardless of where they are located.

As for the in-person component of the graduation, there would need to be many regulations in place. Another perk of having a hybrid graduation is that it will already limit the number of attendees.

Students and their guests will need to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID- 19 test to purchase tickets. Additionally, having a mask mandate regardless of vaccination status or test results will be the best way to proceed.

In the best-case scenario, Baruch would offer a large enough stadium or venue where everyone could stay socially distanced.

Following the idea of New York University students who are currently petitioning for an in- person commencement ceremony, Baruch could try to separate the ceremonies for each school in a further attempt to limit the number of attendees.

There can be separate graduation times allocated to the three schools. This allows for people to enjoy multiple ceremonies.

Baruch is more than capable of planning such a graduation ceremony. A hybrid graduation is the best alternative in this day and age.

Regardless of what kind of ceremony will be held, the decision should be made sooner rather than later. Stalling only does more harm than good.

Throughout their academic careers, students are told to avoid procrastination. Baruch should follow their advice and avoid delaying the decision or announcing it at the last minute.

Baruch students at the very least deserve to know how their graduation will be held. Students and their guests need time to prepare for this grand ceremony.

The lack of concrete decisions surrounding the topic is inconsiderate to everyone involved. The clock is ticking as students wait for the final verdict from Baruch’s administration.