Baruch College should host make-up graduations for the classes of 2020 and 2021


City University of New York | Flickr

In March 2020, CUNY announced a fully virtual academic experience for students in light of the rising concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the announcement, all Baruch College activities, including graduation and commencement ceremonies, were held online.

While this was a necessary precaution during the height of the pandemic, student life has slowly started to return to campus in the past year. Recently, Baruch announced the graduation ceremonies for the class of 2022 will take place in-person at the Barclays Center on May 26.

This news came as a relief for many students who had hoped that their efforts would result in a real celebration. Furthermore, Baruch should also focus on allowing its recent alumni to experience their graduation ceremonies in their full glory.

For most Baruch students, graduation is a milestone they have been tirelessly working toward for years. Thus, it was undoubtedly a huge disappointment to have been robbed of this experience because of the pandemic.

Baruch should follow the lead of other schools like New York University and host make-up graduation ceremonies so these alumni can feel included in the festivities and celebrate their accomplishments like they had always hoped to.

Some students may have felt as though Baruch’s online graduation ceremonies were not held to the highest standard, given that much of the ceremony was pre-recorded and may have come off as impersonal.

A make-up graduation ceremony to honor the work and commitment of its students would not only remind alumni that Baruch cares about them, but it would also prove to current and future students that their college experience is a priority for the administration.

Baruch’s administration should remember that students chose their college with the knowledge, or at least the hope, they would be granted the recognition they deserved upon completing their degree.

By not hosting a proper graduation ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021, Baruch is making a terrible judgment call that could discourage prospective students from applying.

Similarly, CUNY boasts high numbers of first-generation students, with nearly 44% of the undergraduate population in 2019 being the first in their family to pursue a college education.

Earlier this year, Baruch ranked as the number one college for first generation students across the United States, according to Student Loan Hero, Inc.

Graduation ceremonies are important for students all around, but particularly for first generation students, as they hold great value for families who might’ve uprooted their lives for the sake of their children’s education.

Baruch doesn’t need to host the ceremony on short notice. In fact, the ceremonies can be scheduled further in the future to allow for proper planning. Nonetheless, a ceremony must be held to commemorate the incredible achievements of students that have had the added obstacle of a pandemic standing between them and their degree.

A college’s success is ranked not only by its academic accomplishments, but also in the way it serves its students. Baruch has every right to be proud of its alumni and to declare this pride on public platforms. But the administration must not forget its students’ experiences.