Though their last semester at Fordham is ending differently than was expected due to the coronavirus outbreak, Fordham has assured the Class of 2020 that they will still have their commencement ceremony at a later date when they can celebrate their accomplishments together.
University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., first announced the postponement of the 175th commencement ceremony in an email to the Fordham community on March 27.
“We are committed to holding an in-person University Commencement and diploma ceremonies for the Class of 2020,” McShane wrote in another email updating students on April 24. “We will rely on the advice of public health authorities to determine when it is safe to do so. An announcement will be made to the University community when a new date has been determined.”
On May 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the social distancing guidelines which prohibit mass gatherings and the opening of any non-essential businesses in the state through June 4.
Due to the restrictions, Fordham organized a virtual commencement ceremony for seniors on the day of their planned graduation, May 16. Due to a multitude of time conflicts, the commencement video will be available on Fordham’s commencement website beginning at 10 a.m. EDT.
As McShane stated in his April 24 email, the university is committed to holding the ceremony whenever it is safe to do so. Pace University and New York University have expressed the same sentiment to their students. Columbia University, however, is only hosting a virtual ceremony on the day commencement was set to take place.
Wayne “Juice” Mackins, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’20, said the idea of a virtual ceremony is “a bit disheartening”; however, he did commend Fordham’s administration for this plan.
“A huge portion of college is the experience of the ceremony to show the conclusion of one’s hard work and consistency with family and friends,” Mackins said.
Other students, like Sarah Takash, FCLC ’20, are grateful for the virtual ceremony and believe the Class of 2020 is taking this decision better than many may think.
“I think that seniors are more understanding than people think. It’s not like we were angry; we were just really bummed out,” Takash said. “But it’s not Father McShane’s fault; it’s not Fordham’s fault; it’s just they have to follow the rules.”
Takash is also looking forward to an in-person ceremony in the future, though she does not want to disrupt the Class of 2021 and their commencement next spring. This sentiment, Takash said, comes from the Fordham/Ailey BFA program rescheduling their senior week performances to next fall. BFA seniors look forward to this celebration and graduation, but Takash does not want these to take attention away from the following graduating class.
“It’s not just picking up your diploma: the whole pomp and circumstance of it really is a big deal. There are first-generation college graduates in my class; it is a very big deal,” Takash said.
Lauryn Masciana, FCLC ’20, is thankful Fordham is committed to an in-person ceremony but also takes into account the fact that others may not have the same ability to attend the ceremony in-person like she does. Masciana lives in New Jersey and realizes this gives her a much easier time getting to a commencement ceremony than her classmates across the globe.
Distance won’t be the only thing preventing students from attending their postponed in-person commencement ceremony. Morgan McDaniel, FCLC ’20, is uncertain of whether she will be able to attend due to her potential work schedule. As a member of the Fordham/Ailey BFA class, her future location will depend on where she can get a dance contract. She is also hesitant about watching the virtual ceremony on May 15.
“I want to step away from technology to fully acknowledge the work that I’ve done these past four years and share in a moment of celebration with the people who have rooted for me since the beginning,” McDaniel explained.
Takash agreed that she hopes commencement will be as normal as possible under the unusual circumstances and that people make the effort to come back for it if they have the means to do so.
“Everyone deserves a graduation. It’s not our fault that we had to go home,” Takash said.