SLU seniors fight to change virtual graduation

WWNY SLU seniors fight to change virtual graduation

CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - At St. Lawrence University, there won’t be any “walking the stage” at this year’s graduation ceremony.

“We’re not going to give up. We’re going to do things in a smart, safe way, but also make sure we get what we deserve for supporting such a great institution for four years,” said Anna Castilleja, SLU senior.

Like many seniors at St. Lawrence University, Castilleja has missed out on a lot of traditions. And now she’ll miss out on walking the stage, and celebrating with her class.

“Maintaining our normalcy for the last little bit is the one thing we truly wanted,” she said.

St. Lawrence University planned for an April 25 commencement ceremony, but COVID-19 changed those plans.

The college does plan on broadcasting a virtual commencement ceremony on April 11.

“That’s the day before finals week starts. So, we get to have next to no celebration for the end of our four years before the end even begins,” said Castilleja.

In a statement to 7 News, a spokesperson for the university said, “While we recognize it may be difficult to hold commencement prior to final exams, developing a plan for some in-person celebration was important.”

Castilleja isn’t the only senior who feels this way.

A change.org petition has nearly 2,000 signatures, and calls on the university to change the commencement date back to April 25.

Students are looking to celebrate and watch the virtual ceremony in groups of fewer than 150 people - that number based on state regulations for weddings.

One comment on the petition reads, “Because I don’t want to leave this school saying, ‘I’m NOT a proud Laurentian.’”

Another: “I have a final the morning after graduation.”

The school is still weighing its options.

President William Fox said if state regulations allow large outdoor gatherings by April 11, the class will be able to watch the broadcast together, socially distanced while wearing a mask.

He said if state regulations continue to limit large gatherings, groups of ten seniors will be allowed to gather at an assigned campus location to watch the ceremony.

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