By Connor Torpey
Arts & Culture Editor
COVID-19 has taken a lot away from the college experience of students at St. Michael’s, yet the college has tried to make commencement as normal as they can while also keeping things COVID friendly. One of these struggles that the college had to go through was figuring out how to have a meaningful graduation while simultaneously keeping within the COVID guidelines. On March 5, students received news that the 2021 class commencement would proceed on May 13, in a COVID friendly way.
The St. Michael’s administration, in conjunction with student leaders, plan to hold two separate ceremonies in May. On May 13 the first ceremony will take place in person, on the 300’s Field with only the graduating students attending. During this event COVID guidelines are to be followed with everyone sitting in chairs that are spread 6 feet apart. Due to the State of Vermont’s limitations on outdoor gatherings of no more than 150 people, family members will not be able to attend this event. In addition to the in-person ceremony for seniors, the college will hold a virtual procession on May 16th that families can attend. It is during the virtual ceremony in which degrees are received by the class of 2021.
Seniors have mixed feelings about the commencement in general. “I like the idea of trying to do an in person graduation,” said Callahan Hughes ‘21. “I really feel as though after committing four years to this, you really want something formal, and I feel as though online is not the same because we’re all burnt out from online classes.”
Hughes then expanded on this by saying, “I really appreciate that effort and I think outside is a good idea. It’s kind of weird not being able to have parents there or anything else. It kind of defeats part of the purpose I feel.”
On the other side of this, senior Marlon Hyde says, “My family and I are not upset about having a graduation [online]. Why? Because this is still my moment.” He then continued to say “it’s a special moment but not the only special moment we’ll have in our lives.”
Student Government Vice President Onio Finster ‘22 acknowledges that the college is facing difficult decisions about commencement. “The college is in a very unique position, in trying to plan for commencement,” says Antonio Finster, current Vice President and Junior, who is a current member of the eboard. “Not only do they sort of have to address the needs and concerns of students but they are also governed by the state guidelines and what they’re allowed to do.” It’s a very unique position in which they have to answer to two separate entities whose views might be somewhat opposed.”
This controversial approach to graduation may not be exactly what students wanted for their final year at St. Michael’s, but may be the only way students can have a graduation in person without breaking state guidelines, and most importantly without risking infection.