The California Lutheran University Office of the President released a statement in March which said all traditional in-person events are postponed through May 20, including both graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies.
“A virtual ceremony will occur on the regularly scheduled commencement dates, May 15 for graduate and May 16 for undergraduate,” Karissa Oien, manager of Faculty Affairs, said.
Oien added that while there will be a virtual ceremony held online, Cal Lutheran will not be using any forms of virtual reality technology to create an illusion of being in the traditional commencement setting in William Rolland Stadium.
Cal Lutheran has not announced what form the virtual ceremony will take, but Oiens said they will inform graduating students once plans have been finalized.
Upon the notification of the postponement of graduation, the Class of 2020 has expressed mixed emotions.
Senior Sarah McGraw said that although she “understood that they needed to cancel [graduation] for safety purposes,” she was still upset. McGraw added graduation is something she has been looking forward to from the beginning of her time at Cal Lutheran.
“This was the only form of celebration all seniors were looking forward to,” McGraw said.
McGraw said she has been talking to other seniors and has heard rumors from some graduate students that they have heard their ceremony will be rescheduled for some time as early as December 2020 or as late as May 2021.
No rescheduled-commencement dates have been officially announced.
Senior Erin Niemi also said she felt disappointed when news broke about the cancellation of an in-person graduation ceremony on the originally planned date.
“My class of 2020 had a unique set of challenges presented to us during our years here at CLU,” Niemi said. “Borderline, all the wildfires and campus incidents, before the COVID-19 outbreak, and for us to not walk and have our ‘you made it’ moment despite all of our hard work and perseverance is disheartening.”
Niemi has been vocal about her feelings on the current state of graduation and is currently in contact with Oien about different proposals for an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.
Niemi said that her biggest concern is that if there is an in-person ceremony, it should be done in 2020 and not 2021, as long as it is safe.
“2020 is the year that changed and shaped all of us, and that’s when we deserve to celebrate our year, the year we’ve waited for, not any other year. We don’t want to wait any longer than we have to already,” Niemi said.
Niemi added that postponing graduation to spring 2021 may make it difficult for those who have families from out of state and that by 2021, some of the graduates from 2020 may already have jobs that are out of state as well.
“If we wait too long to celebrate us, of course safety permitting, it won’t be as special and we will not have had the same opportunity,” Niemi said.
Despite the mixed emotions, those impacted have expressed that they would rather [missing word] everyone be safe and practice local and federal safety guidelines, rather than risk any harm.
“Right now everyone needs to focus on following local and federal guidelines for social distancing in order to defeat the larger problem, which is the deadly COVID-19 pandemic,” Niemi said. “But, in the event it ends and it is safe to do so, it is imperative that the class of 2020 is celebrated in person.”