It will be three years from the originally planned date of the 2020 commencement by the time we reach the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2023. Three years that the Class of 2020 has had to move on from their college years, find secure, full-time employment and begin to settle down in their lives. At this stage, many of those graduates have moved to places all around the country, or even abroad. To recall these alumni for a rain-date ceremony three years down the line is to do so in vain. Finding the time off work, people to cover their homes, housing in Ithaca and transportation to the ceremony are all high barriers of entry to this proposed event. Some colleges were able to find the time in 2021, like the Cornell University Class of 2020, finding some reasonable success (but doing so at the high risk of COVID-19 transmission). Ithaca College had a celebration event in July 2021 where they invited the Class of 2020 back for the senior splash into the Dillingham Fountains and a few other events. This provides some closure to the class but not a commencement.
The proposal is a kind sentiment, providing closure to those who did not receive it at the end of their long, four-year student experience. Class of 2020 alum Meaghan McElroy put it well when she said, “It kind of felt like there was no real closing the door and celebrating the work that I had done for the four years that I was at Ithaca.” It is a shame that many students share this emotion, but it is our reality. The college opted for the safer choice by not hosting a graduation for the Class of 2020, but to do so now would be a difficult, almost unnecessary endeavor.
This news appears to come with poor planning, as the notice from the Commencement Committee states the 2020 ceremony will be held the same weekend as the 2023 ceremony. This is a travesty of event planning that raises a plethora of questions. Where will they be hosted? Where will the families, alumni and graduates stay? Many recommend booking a hotel for family a year in advance for a normal graduation, never mind finding a place when two graduations are happening in tandem. Does Ithaca have the resources to support enough people for a simultaneous, double graduation? The Commencement Committee must answer these questions before inquiring about interest from the alumni community, or else there will be no interest.