Spring Commencement ceremonies affected by pandemic restrictions

An illustration representing Oregon State University’s plans to hold all spring Commencement ceremonies virtually. OSU hopes to return to some form of in-person ceremonies in 2022.

Artur Silva, News Contributor

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on in-person gatherings, Oregon State University and OSU-Cascades will be holding spring Commencement ceremonies virtually. 

Steve Clark, vice president for university relations and marketing at OSU, said “the decision was finalized toward the end of January and was made in consideration of current and future public health conditions, anticipated local and state COVID-19 guidelines for group gathering, and following consultation with student leaders and faculty.”

The virtual Commencement events are planned for June 12 for the Corvallis campus, and June 13 for the Cascades campus.

More detailed information on how the ceremony will happen—together with student, college and department opportunities to personalize the Commencement virtually—will be shared with students in the upcoming weeks.

“Commencement will be held online to protect the health and safety of OSU students, family members and university employees,” Clark said. “We announced this decision early in winter so students, families and members of the university could plan.”

According to Clark, OSU hopes to return to some form of in-person ceremonies in 2022 and further, while observing health conditions at that time and fully observing state and local health guidelines.

As it regards participating in future Commencement ceremonies, we hope that with good future public health conditions, OSU will be able to invite 2020 and 2021 graduates back to our campuses in Corvallis and Bend for in-person Commencement celebrations; we would welcome those graduates back to celebrate with us,” Clark said.

Fourth year student studying agricultural sciences, Emily Jo Henry Patt, said “I was not even confident that I would graduate, let alone in a pandemic, but when I did picture Commencement, I pictured a hot sunny day, my cap and gown, my parents and siblings all coming into town, and celebrating with all of the friends that I had made over the last four years.”

OSU and universities around the country are aiming to prioritize student safety amid the pandemic, and virtual Commencement is the best option to keep students safe. 

“I am not super excited about an online ceremony, but I would also be uncomfortable with an in-person one, so I guess we are at a lose-lose situation; I have no idea how else the university could have handled this,” Patt said.

For Sebastian Powers-Leach, fourth year student at OSU studying animal sciences, having an online ceremony was not something that he ever envisioned, considering previous ceremonies that he attended.

Regardless of the emotions involved, I think an online ceremony is the only ethical course of action, students have to understand the situation and adjust, even if it’s uncomfortable,” Powers-Leach said.

Although Leach feels disheartened for not being able to have a traditional ceremony together with his peers, a feeling of relief struck, as Leach had heard that graduation ceremonies can be very tiresome.

“Part of me thinks it’s a solid way to top off a year and a half of remote classes, but on the flip side, I’m bummed to not have the in-person emotions of graduating with my peers,” Leach said.

For more information regarding OSU Commencement, visit the Corvallis campus and OSU-Cascades 2021 Commencement webpages.

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