The University of Oregon announced on April 20 that they added two in-person activities on June 12, including the Grad Parade and a live-streamed Stage Procession. Now, UO seniors are reflecting on the university’s decision.
UO senior Wesely Rosemont commented on UO’s Instagram post thanking the university for making accommodations. In an interview with The Emerald, Rosemont said he thinks the way UO is executing graduation this year is “perfect.”
“I think the ability to have the tradition of marching down 13th, all of us getting our names called and getting to walk on stage satisfies every single need, desire and dream I ever had about graduation,” Rosemont said.
Initially, the university told the class of 2020 that it would invite them back to the class of 2021’s commencement. UO spokesperson Saul Hubbard said that because of occupancy limitations, the class of 2020 is no longer invited to the in-person ceremony for the class of 2021. Hubbard said that the UO will “remain committed to inviting the classes of 2020 and 2021 back to campus next year for our traditional, in-person commencement celebration.”
Rachel Rozenfeld, a UO alumni who graduated in 2020, said that she was “extremely upset” when she first learned her classes ceremony would be online.
“I very vividly remember driving up I-5 and crying about it,” Rozenfeld said. “I kind of came to terms about it, but I feel like I never stopped being sad about it.”
Rozenfeld said that she graduated from a small high school, and being part of a large graduation was something she always looked forward to. She said that when she became informed last year that the class of 2020 would join the class of 2021’s ceremony, she was excited to “wear her cap and gown somewhere other than a photoshoot.”
Rozenfeld said she found out through Instagram that she would no longer be able to attend the class of 2021’s ceremony.
“I don’t think any formalized correspondence was sent out to the class of 2020, which was a little disappointing,” Rozenfeld said. “We’re still a class of 5,000 that had still paid the money to have the experience at the end.”
Rozenfeld said that if the circumstances allowed her to come back to Eugene for Commencement in 2021, she would because “one year later doesn’t feel that drastic.” However, she said that there is “no way” she will make the trip in 2022.
Rosemont said that he will not plan on returning for the class of 2022’s commencement, either.
“I think the ceremony that they’re giving us this year is all I could ask for and more,” Rosemont said. “Also, I think them promising again three different graduating school years at an in-person graduation ceremony is gonna be so hard to do, even if COVID is not an issue. Three graduating classes, if they had every single person come back, that’s gonna be a hectic weekend.”
Rosemont said he also thinks having three graduating classes “takes the spotlight away” from the class of 2022.
“University of Oregon is one of the only schools I know that’s made these promising for other graduating classes,” Rosemont said. “I have friends that graduated last year from other universities, and their universities didn’t make that promise cause I think they knew that it’s kind of an unrealistic option — given the amount of people that would be attending including guests.”
Rozenfeld said that she wishes UO would hold two separate commencements, one for the class of 2021 and one for the class of 2020.
“It would’ve been great income for the university and for the city to have these people come back, and I feel like it would’ve been a very COVID safe and respectful way to host a graduation for that class that got a little gift box in the mail for virtual graduation,” Rozenfeld said.”
Rosemont said that while UO probably couldn’t have done anything differently for the class of 2020 last year, due to COVID-19 precautionary circumstances, he thinks promising that former graduates would be able to return with the class of 2021 was the bigger mistake.
“When you make a promise at such a big institution, all of those students are going to want that promise to be upheld,” Rosemont said. “I think if they thought about the logistics, having a dual graduation at all, even if COVID wasn’t a thing, I think that’s where they messed up.”
Rozenfeld said that, as other universities were able to accommodate for the class of 2020, she wishes UO would’ve done something else.
“I just feel like a university the size of the UO, and that has the financial base that the UO does, should’ve been able to accommodate a graduating class,” Rozenfeld said.