Students React to Commencement Alternatives


Victoria Vanbeverhoudt attending online classes.

by Brenda Rojo-Cruz, Contributor

“It’s absolutely been disappointing and sad. I feel like my senior year has ended without any closure,” said graduating Georgia Southern student Samantha Best. “I do, however, feel the university made the right choice; it’s just too risky.”

As COVID-19 continues to grip the United States, universities across the nation have suspended in-person classes and moved classes online until further notice. Closed university campuses mean that regular commencement ceremonies are cancelled and few options are left for graduating students.

Graduating Georgia Southern students worried about their commencement ceremony now have three possible options to choose from, according to an email sent out by the university on March 18, 2020.

These alternatives for the spring commencement include a virtual ceremony to recognize students remotely, a rescheduled in-person ceremony with no certain date yet or opening the fall commencement to any student graduating this semester.
“I think the virtual ceremony will suffice,” said graduating sociology major Rebeca Montes.

“There is a virus outbreak – there’s nothing we can do about it. This is the best alternative,” continues Montes.

“While a good option, a virtual ceremony doesn’t feel as personal,” said Shannon Smith, another Georgia Southern student set to graduate this spring. “I think that out of all the options, a rescheduled in-person ceremony is the best choice because it allows the spring class of 2020 to get the ceremony we properly deserve.”

While senior students are debating between their options for alternative commencements, they are also stressed over successfully completing their last semester of college. “During these times I would be greatly helped if the workload was not so much online. This is affecting me and my well-being as I still feel like school is taking over,” said Patrice Jackson, a fine arts major at Georgia Southern. “I guess this is what is needed to finish the semester, but it feels like a lot to take on and keep up with.”

Other students worry about paying their bills as well as finishing their courses.
“I have essentially lost my job on campus…not technically, but for all intents and purposes, I have. I wish the university would provide me with an opportunity to work so I can get paid and save for grad school and pay my bills,” said Best.

Faced with an uncertain situation, graduating students ask Georgia Southern to try and ease the process, for both them and future graduates. “Although the circumstances were unexpected, there are things the university could do to further facilitate students in moving on to their next stage in life,” said Spanish major Victoria Vanbeverhoudt. “Degrees should be mailed in a timely fashion because students are already deprived of graduations and can’t even plan celebrations, so it is the least the university could

“I hope the university will have a solid plan to offer students in case another situation causes them to cancel commencement. They should use this as a learning experience,” said Vanbeverhoudt.

Even with the cancelled commencement, students at Georgia Southern are staying strong. “We’re all in this together. Feel all the feelings and grieve the loss of what we missed, but nothing can take away the accomplishment of graduating from college. Find ways to celebrate and be proud of your success,” said Best.