By: Cullen McIntyre, Sports Editor
Chancellor Dannel Malloy announced in a statement that all May commencement celebrations would be canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The statement, issued last Monday, said: “It is with a sober sense of responsibility that our Presidents and I have therefore decided that we cannot proceed with our planned in-person commencement exercises in early May.”
Students of USM received the news in the Monday Missive email sent out by President Glenn Cummings, saying “Later today the Chancellor’s Office will announce a System-wide decision to cancel all Commencement exercises in May 2020.”
Senior marketing major Laura Mills was upset but understood the decision to cancel commencement. “I feel it was the right thing to do. It’s obviously really upsetting because I know I and so many other classmates worked really hard to get here,” she said. “It’s a really big accomplishment and it really sucks we can’t celebrate it but the health of everyone else is more important to me.”
For seniors, commencement is a big step in their lives. Tracy Edwards, a senior health sciences major, was looking forward to the event, “It’s very sad and disappointing that graduation will be canceled because it’s an event that happens usually once in a lifetime,” she said. “And to me it’s even more special because I am a first-generation college student and I was excited for my parents and brothers to be there to see me accept this achievement of graduating from college.”
A highly discussed idea was that commencement should have been postponed, but for some students that wouldn’t work. “I think that the decision they made was for the best. Because if it was postponed I don’t know if I could attend in a different month,” Edwards said. Edwards is from Cranston, Rhode Island, and much like many other out of state students would find it hard to make the trip for a postponed commencement ceremony.
President Cummings noted in the Monday Missive that each campus will be working towards an alternative celebration for those meant to graduate this spring. “USM has a very dedicated Commencement Committee that has been working tirelessly on preparations. This committee, chaired by Dean of Students Rodney Mondor, will meet this week and finalize a plan to celebrate our graduates in a safe modality and timeframe.”
“I don’t know if there would be a sufficient plan for graduation by the Commencement Committee because there is so much that is unknown about the future,” Edwards said.
Chancellor Malloy’s statement confirmed that all universities will award degrees to 2020 graduates on schedule. In the current COVID-19 crisis, gathering in groups of over 10 is not allowed and the federal government ordered social distancing to be extended until April 30.
Malloy went on to state that students will be informed by universities over the next two weeks about planning for alternative commencement plans.