Sahra Mohamed, Editor-In-Chief
With one month and eleven days remaining until the 2020 commencement (yes, I was counting down the days) Augsburg University has moved to cancel the ceremony amid fears of the novel coronavirus.
Like many, I understand the administration’s decision and the importance of prioritizing public safety. But like many, I am also extremely disappointed as to why there has been no consideration of possibly pushing the date of the ceremony back and why communication has been inconsistent and unclear.
Just days before spring break, students were assured that Augsburg did not intend on canceling classes. Three days later, we were met with another email that classes would be canceled the week following the break as professors prepare for “alternative mode of instruction”. If the administration was considering and preparing for a move to alternative instruction, why was that not communicated to students?
In an email to students sent out March 23, Provost Karen Kaivola mentioned that they will be exploring “virtual alternatives” and that “all students who are eligible to participate in May 2020 commencement will be invited to join our next commencement ceremony”. Yet, these virtual options have not been explained clearly, and to “invite” the class of 2020 to join next year’s ceremony feels like a slap in the face.
For many seniors, this moment was meant to be a moment of joy spent with family and friends celebrating their success. And for many first-generation students, it was a moment that extended to the sacrifices their parents had made, many fleeing their own countries to find better opportunities for their children. To cancel this ceremony without even the consideration of postponement is to tell these students and families that their sacrifices do not matter.
Although I did make amazing memories and create lifelong friendships during my time here at Augsburg, I, and many seniors, will be losing out on tangible memories from the commencement ceremony to my last day of classes and saying a final goodbye to my department and professors.
While we are unaware of how long the virus could be a problem here in the United States, many colleges and universities have already decided to postpone their ceremonies to dates in August and some even extending it to December. While I am aware that Augsburg had intended on holding their ceremony at the US Bank Stadium, I am certain there can be arrangements made to hold the ceremony on campus as it has been done for decades.
I urge members of the Augsburg University administration to reevaluate their decision to cancel the class of 2020 commencement ceremony. I urge you to commit to postponing this ceremony and to allow for graduating students to see light in the midst of this darkness.