FIU Students React to Virtual Graduation Announcement

Tamica Jean-Charles/Asst. Entertainment Director

Spring graduates can still participate in their intended spring commencement next month–through their computer screens, of course. 

The University Commencement Team sent an email Monday, March, 23 detailing options for spring graduates to partake in. Graduating students are given the option to attend a virtual commencement sometime next month or attend a separate, but physical, ceremony at the end of the upcoming summer or fall semesters.

“We feel your sadness in having to postpone commencement and create different opportunities for our seniors,” the email said. “We empathize in you not being able to walk this spring to celebrate your academic achievement with your family and friends.” 

The University announced the cancellation of all spring graduation ceremonies in an email sent on Friday, March 20. The decision came after Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all Florida university commencements to be canceled or administered remotely. 

The 16,000 tickets bought for this year’s Spring commencement will be refunded to the students who’ve purchased tickets for their ceremonies, as mentioned in the initial March 20 email. Details on how the refund process will work have yet to be released. 

University President Mark Rosenberg will be available for photos once the pandemic has lulled,  as stated in the email. 

For students who already purchased their cap and gowns, their grad outfit may not see the light of day until mid-April or later. Herff Jones, the company that provides the materials, will be out of operations until April 8, as mandated by a temporary halt on non-essential businesses from the company’s home state of Ilinois. 

News of the canceled ceremonies hit home for many of its graduates. 

When senior Ana Garcia got the email that her spring commencement was canceled, her heart dropped. As a first-generation college student, having the hard work she put in for her chemistry degree to be met with a cancellation felt like a slap in the face. 

“My diploma is a product of countless hours at the library, and the many sacrifices that my parents have made for me,” said Garcia. “That fact that some of us won’t be able to celebrate that feeling is really upsetting.”

The email from the commencement team provided some clarity to the chemistry major, as she said the Spring class of 2020 was left in the dark until today. 

“I’m glad FIU reached out to and empathized with us,” said Garcia. “It [still] sucks, but what can we do.”

Like Garcia, Elizabeth Echeverria appreciates FIU taking necessary precautions and canceling spring commencement but finds the idea of a virtual graduation a waste of time. The graduating psychology student will not participate in either graduation ceremony

“I don’t see the point of [walking later] considering the fact that I will have my degree in possession,” Echeverria said.“Why walk if I’ve already had my degree for four to nine months already?”  

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