By Zoe Snyder
KU has decided to hold their first in-person commencement ceremony since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. This ceremony will be different from previous ones because it will take place over three days instead of two, with six ceremonies overall instead of three, with each allowing only two guests per graduate.
KU had postponed the previous two semesters of commencement due to COVID-19, but now those graduates have the opportunity to participate in the ceremony if they so choose. Sue Mangold, head of the Commencement Committee, stated that there will be 203 graduates from 2020 who have opted to walk in this ceremony.
One such alumni, Genaro Robles Jr, said that he is glad he gets to participate in person so that his mother can watch him. He was the first in his family to graduate from college.
Some students are finding it difficult to choose who gets their tickets. Audrey Gerhinger, who will graduate in May, explains that the two guests per graduate rule has saddened her sister and boyfriend especially because they will not be able to attend.
Others who have smaller families, like Shannon Jacobs who also is graduating in May, say the decision to give her tickets to her parents was not as difficult because they have been there for her since day one.
Because of COVID-19 safety protocols, graduates and faculty will be seated in socially distanced seats. Guests will be seated in pairs six feet away from other pairs. Masks or face coverings will be required for all guests and participants.
While there are two guest tickets for every graduate, Mangold made it clear that the two guests for each graduate need to arrive at the Fieldhouse together to be seated, even if traveling separately. If a student only has one guest, that guest must bring both tickets in order to be seated. No one will be seated with a singular ticket.
The ceremonies will take place in the O’Pake Fieldhouse on the South side of campus. Parking will be different for each ceremony because of back-to-back ceremonies. Mangold assures guests who need to park on the opposite side of campus that there will be a shuttle service to take them to and from the Fieldhouse.
Additionally, students this year have been granted the approval to decorate their caps, something that was never allowed before. Mangold explained that President Kenneth Hawkinson fully understands the added stress that COVID-19 has placed on graduates and that factored into his decision to allow decorated caps. Caps must be decorated appropriately and so that the people sitting behind can see over it.
Commencement will take place May 7-9, with a complete schedule on the KU website. Additionally, the ceremonies will be streamed live for those who cannot attend.