Chancellor Gary May empathizes with graduating students, encourages student input
The Editorial Board commends UC Davis’ decision to move its Spring 2020 Commencement to a virtual platform and potentially offer an in-person ceremony option in December during this uncertain time. Students are currently dealing with anxieties associated with the current health crisis and the inability to see loved ones during shelter-in-place in addition to the added stress of taking virtual classes. It is reassuring that UC Davis’ administration is taking student consideration seriously and doing its best to ensure that this important tradition is carried on, despite trying circumstances.
This situation is nowhere near ideal, but students have worked incredibly hard during their time at UC Davis to earn a degree, and they deserve accomodations for an event that celebrates this. The Board, which is composed of nine graduating seniors, agrees with the decision to offer commencement options, as not all graduating students will be able to return to campus for an in-person ceremony held at a later date. Likewise, a virtual platform by itself might not best serve those students who wish to have a celebration in person — especially those who have the ability to return to campus at a future time.
The university’s implementation of a survey to gauge student interest and allow students to provide feedback should be a model for other universities. At other universities, students have expressed frustration with their administration over commencement decisions — for instance, there was vocal disagreement over Chico State University’s decision to postpone commencement until 2021, effectively combining different graduating classes. Frustration at this time is understandable, but students and their administrations should also have patience with one another.
While we understand that commencement is not a top priority during a pandemic, we are grateful that Chancellor Gary May is taking commencement earnestly, as indicated in his announcement video.
“Since I have a daughter going through a similar experience, I first want to acknowledge the disappointment, the sadness and the frustration that many of you are feeling,” May said. “We had every hope of being able to somehow host commencement in June and much deliberation and care went into this decision. But the health risk is just too great.”
We appreciate May’s empathy and his recognition of the frustrations many of us feel. We also appreciate that soon-to-be graduates have been provided with options. This ultimately lessens a burden on students who should, at this time, be prioritizing their own health and the health of their family members.
These moments necessitate unity among, rather than animosity between, one another. As universities have struggled to come up with adequate alternatives in so little time, students at other schools have had their commencement ceremonies completely canceled. While we acknowledge that commencement will not be carried out as initially expected, this is the best possible solution for students at this moment. This is not ideal, but very little is at this time. We hope that students can show understanding moving forward and work with the administration to ensure that commencement can still be as memorable an occasion as possible.
Written by: The Editorial Board