To Whom It May Concern,
We go through college thinking that our journey will end with a walk across the stage. We spend our senior year counting down the days until we get to celebrate our accomplishment with family and friends by attending a ceremony that seals the end of your college journey. Apparently, that is not always the case.
Nobody could have guessed that we would not return to our classes after spring break because of a global pandemic. For some of us, the last time we sat in a college classroom could have already happened. And now, graduation inevitably has a question mark behind it due to the spreading illness. We understand the severity of COVID-19. But that is not what this is about.
While this is a scary time and precautions should be taken, I do not think schools understand the impact that their decision to outright cancel commencement would have.
Think of the first generation students. College is not an easy road for anyone, but especially for those of the first generation. They are the first in their families to pursue higher education, dealing with the dissonance between parents understanding what their child is going through. They are the movers and shakers; nobody paved the road for them before. Doesn't that deserve a celebration?
Think of the foreign exchange students. They come from different countries, thousand of miles away from their homes and families in hopes for gaining a higher education. They made the sacrifice to learn in a new environment, far from their comfort zones. Shouldn't their accomplishment be recognized?
Think of all the sacrifices and struggles many, if not all, college students have made. Some were told they would not amount to much. Some were told they were taking on thousands of dollars of debt for no reason. And yet, they persisted. They made it to the end and are about to launch themselves into the 'real world.' Does this milestone not matter?
I spent the majority of my final year at James Madison University thinking that I could not wait for the year to end and that I was ready for the next chapter of my life. Now that the chapter may be closed sooner than expected, I would give anything to have the celebration I was promised with my family and friends. To have that closure of such an important part of our lives ripped away from us suddenly and unexpectedly is just unfair.
We are asking you to come to another solution. Think back to your own college graduation and how important that day was to you.
By canceling graduation, you are taking away more than you realize. Please reconsider ALL implications of your decision.
The Class of 2020