Quinnipiac plans to host an in-person commencement for the class of 2021


Kaye Paddyfote, News Director

Quinnipiac University has announced that they will be hosting an in-person graduation this spring for the class of 2021.

“Graduates will be able to participate in-person in the People’s United Sports Center on the York Hill Campus, where we will hold small live ceremonies,” Provost Debra Liebowitz said. “Graduates will be seated throughout the arena according to social distance regulations and required to wear a face mask.”

Students will get to walk across the stage in May to receive their diplomas, which has many of the students thrilled.

“I’m so excited,” senior engineering major Amanda Ettine said. “I genuinely thought we wouldn’t be able to. I already had to have my hard hat ceremony on Zoom which was upsetting. I didn’t want my name on a PowerPoint again.”

While students must wear a face mask, no guests are allowed to be there as a way to protect the “Bobcat Bubble.”

Some students, however, are not thrilled with the idea that their parents or loved ones won’t be able to attend the ceremony.

Graduate student Jennifer Finley created an online petition in hopes to allow at least two guests to be in attendance.

“We are urging Quinnipiac’s administration to reconsider this,” Finley wrote in her petition. “The Quinnipiac Ice Hockey Arena has a capacity of 3,386 people, and we believe we can SAFELY invite our parents (or 2 guests) to celebrate all they may have sacrificed for us to receive college degrees. We believe everyone is also willing to be flexible in this – whether it be through vaccinations (if available), negative tests, antibodies, or graduating in smaller pods. The School of Nursing, for example, has under 200 students, and if each student could bring 2 guests that is 600 people. We believe 600 people can be safely social distanced around the 3,000+ capacity Ice Hockey Arena (and all other school graduations).”

Many students have acknowledged that their parents and family members have sacrificed so much for them to attend college. With that said, these future graduates are not too fond of the idea that their loved ones will not be granted access to witness one of the biggest accomplishments of their lives.

“My family has been by my side through these four years and there’s been a lot of ups and downs,” senior health science major and psychology minor Carissa Carbone said. “I would love to have, if not all of them, two of them at least be there to watch me walk.”

Carbone is grateful that she will have the opportunity to walk across the stage, but not being able to see her family in the crowd is something she would miss.

Bethany Zemba, vice president and chief of staff, understands students want family and friends present, but because of COVID-19 guidelines, it just isn’t possible right now. 

“We did bring this to the COVID coordinators [having a guest in attendance], there’s a task force, and the COVID task force reviewed the protocols and we got the advice of our Resident Medical expert, Dr. Hill…” Zemba said. “He, along with others, helped guide us through the decision and so bringing people from across the state into a small space, we just won’t have enough room to social distance in a safe way given the number of people who would want to come for their graduates.”

Zemba did say the possibility of testing and more was talked about to try and accommodate guests, but there is not enough space to have them.

There was a survey that was sent to students less than a month ago on Jan. 25, 2021, about their graduation preference according to Student Government Association (SGA), and students from different academic schools were used for their input on commencement.

The class of 2020 will get a chance to celebrate their commencement, as well. In an email sent out by Provost Liebowitz, she announced that on the weekend of May 15, 2021, Quinnipiac will host a Commencement Journey drive-through.

“Your graduation will feature a celebratory driving route throughout the Mount Carmel Campus stopping for photo ops at various points including the Mount Carmel Quinnipiac University sign and Bobcat statue where you and your family will be able to get out of your vehicle and take photos,” Liebowitz wrote.

The end of the drive will conclude at the Arnold Bernhard Library steps.

“You will be able to cross this outdoor Commencement stage and receive your diploma cover while a professional photographer captures the moment…Liebowitz wrote. “Your experience will conclude with an official welcome to the Alumni Association and, if the COVID-rules at that time allow, a champagne toast on the Quad.”

This is how the drive through would conclude. The student and their family would be the only ones on the stage.
Credit: Concord Monitor

Participants participating in the drive-through must wear a mask, have only one vehicle per family, and only four people are allowed to come.

The plans for commencement will rely on the amount of positive COVID cases on campus. If cases spike and the university moves to “red alert,” the in-person commencement would be in danger.