Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 26, 2021

Seniors react to plans for a virtual Commencement

By ELIZABETH RAPHAEL | February 13, 2021

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COURTESY OF CHRIS H. PARK

The potential senior-only Commencement Ceremony will be held at the Royal Farms Arena.

The Senior Class Council Commencement Committee and the University’s Commencement Office announced on Feb. 1 that, given current public health guidelines, the University is planning for a virtual Commencement Ceremony on May 27. 

In an email to the Class of 2021, University officials explained that the format of Commencement will depend on COVID-19 numbers in the spring. However, officials noted that they are cautiously optimistic that there will be some form of in-person celebration for the graduating class.

While the University hopes that some portion of the Ceremony will be hosted downtown at Royal Farms Arena, family and friends will not be permitted to attend the ceremony in-person and will instead be asked to view the event via livestream.

Senior Abby Weyer understands the decision, although she had hoped for a normal Commencement Ceremony.

“I am surprised that they made the call this early, but I expected Commencement to be online once again,“ she said. “My whole family was excited to attend, even my grandparents in China.”

Senior Associate Director of Events Sarah Martin stated that the University had initially considered holding several smaller, in-person events. However, after facing venue and logistical constraints, University officials opted to plan for a limited in-person ceremony if the hybrid Commencement actualizes. 

In an email to The News-Letter, Senior Olin Shipstead conveyed his expectation that some portions of the ceremony will be in-person. 

“After seeing the lengths the school went to this semester to welcome students back to campus, I had thought that Hopkins might have been able to find some sort of compromise that preserved at least some in-person elements,“ he wrote. “Last May, I celebrated my sister’s graduation online through a makeshift Zoom ceremony with family and friends. I never would have thought that my graduation a year later would also be virtual.”

Having watched many of her friends graduate via Zoom last year, Weyer noted that she was impressed with the virtual ceremony.

The Commencement Office explained in its email that is committed to ensuring a personal and successful ceremony — regardless of the format it ultimately takes — by arranging for photographs of the graduates and recognizing individual graduate names, degrees and majors during the ceremony.

“Whether it is virtual or a seniors-only in-person event, we are committed to creating a fun and engaging ceremony and look forward to soliciting your ideas and feedback on what would be most meaningful for you,“ officials wrote.

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