Oregon State University’s Bend and Corvallis, Ore. campuses will no longer hold their rescheduled 2020 Commencement ceremonies in the fall, according to the university President F. King Alexander.
Due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, OSU has decided to cancel the ceremonies because the university ‘has a shared obligation that our university community observe heightened public health measures,’ Alexander stated in an email sent to the OSU community early on July 31.
In the beginning of April—when such a large gathering proved to be a risk to the community with the continually rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state—OSU announced the postponement of the June Commencement ceremonies.
“We did not make this decision easily as it affects more than 7,300 graduates from our Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses and more than 25,000 guests as well as OSU faculty and staff who participate in Commencement,” Alexander said in the OSU community email.
According to Diana Santiago Paz—an OSU 2020 graduate receiving two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one in sociology and the other in ethnic studies—she thinks the university did a good job to cancel the Commencement ceremony early on, as it allows everyone to cease planning.
“I'm saddened by the news that the Commencement is going to be canceled, especially because I'm a first-generation migrant student, however, I'm fortunate enough to continue my education so I'm looking forward to the next Commencement where I can share my achievements with my family,” Santiago Paz said in an email.
After considering all the possible alternatives to the ceremony, the university has decided to send a gift box to all Spring 2020 graduates with conferred degrees. Additionally, OSU is inviting all 2020 graduates, along with friends and family, to partake in the 2021 Commencement ceremonies on June 12, 2021 in Corvallis and June 13, 2021 in Bend.
Santiago Paz said while she doesn't mind receiving a gift box with her degrees, the gift box won't accurately mirror the experience of a Commencement ceremony. She added that it feels nice knowing that the university is still trying to give 2020 graduates an experience similar to Commencement.
“I don't plan on attending next year's Commencement, I feel like by then I will have moved on from this milestone and will no longer need to celebrate it,” Santiago Paz said via email. “I also would feel bad for the graduating class of 2021, as that is their moment and their celebration. However, this doesn't bother me so if people go, good for them! If they don't go, good for them too!”