Class of 2020 graduates have mixed opinions about rescheduled commencement

By Hailey Hensley

In the wake of the strangest school year many students will ever encounter, Rider’s commencement for the class of 2020 has seen yet another date change, this time being moved all the way to May 2021.

Though the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 will have separate ceremonies, the events will occur within the same weekend, according to an August 27th announcement by the university.

This announcement came after a decision was made in March to postpone commencement for the class of 2020 until November in order to align with the 2020 family weekend and homecoming.

Graduated Student Government Association President Paige Ewing weighed in on the newly rescheduled commencement, saying that “in mid- August, the committee met and we were all crushed that the original plan of having a November ceremony would not take place but we knew everyone wanted to have a day to celebrate with all of our friends and family while also being safe. In the end, after exhausting every plan and option we all agreed that having a May ceremony would be the best way to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments and protect everyone’s health and safety.”

In an email sent to the class of 2020 and signed by university President Gregory Dell’Omo, he speaks about continuing to listen to student leaders from the graduating class. It is stated that the resounding message from the leadership is the desire for an in-person ceremony.

“I realize this is very disappointing news. Our decision was not made lightly. This pandemic has had a profound impact on your lives and the lives of so many across our country and the world. But know this: we are doing all we can to ensure that you are celebrated for the significant milestone you have each achieved while also ensuring your safety and that of your families,” Dell’Omo said. “We heard this loud and clear from your class leadership – the importance of being celebrated for your unique experiences as the Class of 2020, with your family and friends, and in the style that all proud members of the Rider and Westminster Choir College communities have come to expect.”

Ewing stated that her greatest fear is that students will lose the excitement for commencement due to the long wait they will have to endure.

“I think the biggest worry is that by the time that May comes around people will feel uninterested in a ceremony. Now that everyone has received their caps and gowns and diplomas they may just move on with their lives,” she said.

A 2020 graduate of the Master’s in Business Communication program Rachael Samonski clarified that she would not be attending the rescheduled ceremony.

“I am not planning on attending the ceremony. I am not excited, the excitement has completely worn off. I’m more concerned about the job market and utilizing my degrees rather than a ceremony a year too late,” Samonski said.

Ewing emphasized that while commencement may be delayed, and that it is less than ideal, there is also a silver lining.

“I also think that it may be a great way to keep class unity and make commencement like a one-year reunion. Overall, having a graduation where everyone can fully celebrate with friends and family is important to the closure of our undergraduate journey,” she said.

Senior class president Rhea Fryer shared an optimistic message regarding the repeatedly rescheduled ceremonies.

“While it has been hard for sure for the class of 2020 not getting to experience their commencement, I am looking forward to the potential of having both commencements within the same weekend of each other, and could be a great opportunity for recent alumni and soon to be alumni to connect,” Fryer said. “Since the ceremonies are on different days to allow for both classes to have their own day to shine and celebrate their accomplishments. Hopefully, things will be better in regards to [the pandemic] and it can look close to a normal commencement ceremony.”

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