Graduating from SUNY Brockport in a pandemic

During the semester you can find exhausted SUNY Brockport college students pulling all-nighters, living at the library, and overloading on caffeine. They do this for one reason – to graduate.

Walking across the stage at the end of four long years, sometimes longer, is what many college students strive to achieve. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, SUNY Brockport’s commencement ceremony looks a little different this year.

The college has offered students the opportunity to walk across the stage at the SERC on campus in smaller groups. Students had to pre-register for time slots on Monday, May 17 at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Tuesday, May 18 at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and Wednesday, May 19 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Guests are not allowed at these ceremonies, but family and friends can pay $5 to have their picture placed on a cardboard cutout as if they were in the stands.

The SERC where students will be walking across the stage. Photo from SUNY Brockport Instagram.

In order to participate, students either need to provide proof of a vaccination, have had COVID-19 from February 18 or later, or receive an antigen test on the day of their grad walk. Emails were sent out to students to let them know their options.

The commencement ceremony for all graduates will take place on YouTube Live on Saturday, May 22 at 3 p.m. This is where SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson will speak. Graduates have the option to send in a picture or video of themselves for their customized slide during the ceremony.

Senior Jerry Dangler is a sports management major at SUNY Brockport. He feels that he did not receive enough information about the ceremony.

“Obviously there always could be more information,” Dangler said. “Whether it’s to help me further understand what the situation is, especially with all of the Covid restrictions. The only information I know is that a walk is happening at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.”

Dangler feels the college should’ve specified more information about the ceremony itself for students.

“I wish they ran through what was going to happen at the ceremony, all that I know is we will be walking across the stage,” Dangler said.

SUNY Brockport senior Erin Lawson agrees that more clarity would have benefited students.

“I feel like I received enough information about what’s happening for graduation, but more clarity would’ve been nice,” Lawson said. “Even though the information was sent in an email, some of it is still confusing and lacks clarity. Still to this day if I meet with one of my professors, they ask me what I’m doing for graduation or how I’m graduating because even they seem to be out of the loop.”

SUNY Brockport students celebrating their accomplishments pre-pandemic. Photo from SUNY Brockport Instagram.

The lack of information can be confusing for students. Although the school has to comply with New York State regulations for the pandemic, some students wish they could bring their family to watch their accomplishments.

SUNY Brockport senior Wolfgar Lobo is choosing not to attend the graduation ceremony for this reason.

“I don’t want to do the ceremony if my parents can’t be there,” Lobo said. “I don’t feel like there was enough student input for the graduation. I know we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but the school didn’t really ask or give any surveys. I think there should’ve been more input from students.”

Allowing students to celebrate their accomplishments in an almost normal format amidst a pandemic is a great capability for SUNY Brockport. However, the college’s lack of outreach and information is what students say has ruined graduation for them. Asking students their opinion, clarifying information, or giving students more information would’ve been more appreciated from the students who have finally done it – graduated.



Categories: Campus Life, community development, COVID-19, Education, Issues

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