Op-Ed: The graduation update – More bad news for graduating students this semester


Last week, the university released the updated plans for commencement for Dec. graduates. The email that students received was a little vague, and simply summarized the updates that can actually be found on WCU’s website.

It wasn’t until later in the day when scrolling through Facebook, that the uproar and unrest from the update became apparent. Students were rapidly commenting on a post in the WCU Residential Living Page, upset and confused about the new rulings and regulations regarding who would be allowed at the commencement ceremonies, and how they would be held to encourage safety and social distancing.

What seemed to cause the most uproar is the fact that Fall graduates – including graduates from the past Spring and Summer – will only be allowed two guests to accompany them at the commencement ceremonies.

Many of the complaints found on the Facebook post regarding this particular update, was the fact that many students have siblings, family members, and spouses that already made plans to come to graduation, and having to choose between family members, spouses, etc. is simply too much to ask of students.

Personally, as a student that will be graduating in Dec. as well, this update has thrown a total wrench in what is supposed to be the biggest achievement of my life so far. Like many of the other students having to choose who deserves to be at the ceremonies, I now must choose between my husband – also a student graduating this Dec. – my brother, and my parents. Many students are choosing to simply skip the graduation ceremonies, simply because the choice can’t be made as to who is more important and who deserves to accompany students through their ceremonies.
While I understand the need to maintain caution and safety in regard to the ongoing pandemic, I feel that the way graduation has been updated to fit these safety standards is taking away from graduates who have – quite literally – worked their asses off to get to this point, and is encouraging many graduates to skip walking across the stage altogether.

On top of receiving the alarming update for graduation, students were soon after sent an email, assumingly meant to cushion the shock of the first graduation update, that encouraged students to come to the grad fair on Sat. Oct. 31, and spend money on a cap and gown, as well as get a professional picture taken in said regalia. This seems like a pitiful buffer event to make students feel better about the graduation ceremony, but at least it gives students the opportunity to get a professional photo taken if they are skipping out on the ceremony.

So how are we supposed to feel? Are we supposed to be grateful that we even get graduation? I, for one, plan not to walk at the ceremony but instead will spend what was supposed to be my graduation date, with my family, and not just the two members I would’ve had to pick to accompany me to my ceremony.

While things seem abysmal in the world and regarding graduating and celebrating our achievements as students, keep your chins up Catamounts. We’ll get through it.