by Delaney Appelhans
Last Wednesday, the university’s Commencement Office released the registration details and time slots for this year’s commencement celebration. Following COVID-19 restrictions and state guidance, this year’s official commencement ceremony will be held virtually. The registration link was sent to the student body and to 2020 graduates during the afternoon of one of this semester’s non-instructional days.
Alongside the virtual ceremony and new this year, though, students have the opportunity to sign up for a 15-minute time slot throughout the week of commencement to walk across a graduation-set stage at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.
Both the graduating class of 2020 and the class of 2021 were able to sign up for these time slots and are each being allowed two guests at their stage crossing time slot. During the stage crossing, the graduate’s name will be announced as an alternative to the typical in-person, university-wide ceremony held at Memorial Stadium.
Students have been waiting for the opportunity to sign up for their time slot since March 9 when Chancellor Robert J. Jones announced the alternative plans for this May’s commencement ceremony. Time slots were made available from Monday, May 10 to Monday, May 17, and slots for the weekend dates of the stage crossing filled quickly upon opening of the registration.
Despite this alternative commencement option being offered to graduates, a Change.org petition was recently started in response to the plans. Jack Gentile, who started the petition, says in the description that “the students believe we should have in-person commencement ceremonies, split up by college and major, as done in previous years.”
He further explains that the commencement ceremony is set to happen one full month after COVID-19 vaccines become available to the general public in the state of Illinois, and that having an in-person ceremony would be in line with decisions made by fellow Big 10 universities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Indiana University. Over 800 people have signed the petition so far.