UPDATED: Fordham Confirms Hybrid Graduation Commencement for the Class of 2021

The graduation ceremony will be livestreamed on May 22, and all in-person events will be closed to guests

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HANA KEININGHAM AND JESS LUSZCZYK

For the second year in a row, Fordham will hold a virtual commencement, but this year’s will be supplemented with hybrid events.

Updated: Feb. 26

The Office of the President announced that the commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2021 will be held both virtually and in-person in a community-wide email on Feb. 12.

The official graduation ceremony will be livestreamed on May 22 at 10 a.m., and graduating students are encouraged to celebrate at home with their families. 

In lieu of the ceremony on May 22, Fordham plans to host in-person events during the week of May 17-22, when graduating students can walk across a stage to receive their diplomas. 

Due to New York state guidelines about social distancing, guests will not be allowed to attend the in-person school ceremonies. The university hopes to accommodate any graduating student who wishes to attend the in-person ceremonies and will also arrange virtual graduation ceremonies for those unable to visit campus. 

“I know this will not be the Commencement you expected when you arrived at Fordham,” University President Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., wrote in the email. “But I promise you that we will do everything we can to make sure you have the joyous—and safe—Commencement you have earned.”

The email confirmed that the plans are still in progress and will be adapted depending on the state guidelines in May. 

Responses to the hybrid graduation model among the Class of 2021 have varied. Some appreciate Fordham’s effort to provide a ceremony that is closer to a typical graduation than the virtual graduation given to the Class of 2020, while others see Fordham’s decision as careless.

Reem Farhat, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’21, thinks that the hybrid model is a great opportunity for students to experience walking across the stage with their friends, but finds it unfortunate that families won’t be able to attend. 

“The thing I was most excited about was my family being able to witness me getting my diploma –– especially as the first person in my family to graduate from college. With that said, I wouldn’t want to increase my family’s risk of exposure to COVID-19 through a graduation,” she said.

Farhat does not have a preference for the format of her graduation this summer, given that the situation can not be easily managed. Health and safety remain paramount in her consideration of commencement.

Leah Toledano, FCLC ’21, views the hybrid graduation model as “excessive, careless, and unnecessary.” 

“It is nearly impossible for every senior to be vaccinated by the time we would gather in-person, so why take the risk of bringing a massive group of people together in the first place? Everything has changed, including the way that major events should operate, can’t we accept that?” they wrote. 

“For me to prioritize a celebration of my college career seems inappropriate, untimely, and simply irrelevant. Yes, I have worked hard, but I am looking beyond my graduation and am more so committed to building a new and different world,” Toledano continued, referring to events that occurred in 2020 revealing the systems that sustain oppressive hierarchies.

Toledano stated they would prefer an “immersive, futuristic, and high tech” virtual graduation experience, in which new technological developments can be incorporated to craft a unique virtual experience.

Other universities in the tri-state area seem to be following a general trend of conducting their commencements virtually.

On Feb. 8, New York University published a message on its website regarding the school’s plans for commencement, which will be occurring virtually. Students will be invited to participate in an in-person ceremony when public health guidelines deem it is safe to do so, but a specific date was not listed. The School of Visual Arts also stated that it will be conducting its 2021 commencement virtually and livestreaming it on Facebook Live. Brooklyn College is also adhering to a virtual format.

A shorter version of this article was initially published on Feb. 12.