UL considering changes to commencement

Posted at 10:53 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 23:56:20-04

It's only March and already 2020 is a year that will stand out in history.

The Coronavirus pandemic has everyone making adjustments to everyday life, but also for moments that are supposed to stand out.

UL is evaluating commencement plans. In an email to graduating seniors, UL said they want students to know that completing a degree is hard work and they have a right to be celebrated. We've learned that surveys have been sent out to seniors asking their opinions about commencement if COVID-19 interrupts plans at the Cajundome.

UL Lafayette Senior Communications Specialist Eric Maron said, "I know there is nothing better than having a graduation ceremony where you actually walk across the stage and have your family close by."

Graduation is over a month away, but students are preparing for the possibility they will not be able to walk across the stage on May 15.

UL MBA student Stefan Cormier is a captain in the army. He already has orders for his next mission, so he isn't too concerned about the possibility of not walking across the stage. He did say his family could feel differently.

"For them it will be a bigger deal especially with grandparents aging. I'm very close to my family. For them, it will be very disheartening as a kind of send off if you will," Cormier said.

Right now, students across the University of Louisiana System are filling out surveys to see what seniors want to do incase COVID-19 changes commencement plans.

The options include moving forward with the May 15 date, but limiting guests and potentially changing venues. Option two is postponing until summer classes start. Option three is a combined ceremony with the summer 2020 graduates.

Cormier said, "I don't believe it should hinder anyone from continuing on. I'm sure there are many other people in similar situations to mine that are relying on that piece of paper to open doors for the."

"There's not only a great sense of relief, but achievement at graduation," Maron said. "To actually walk across that stage, it's a great feeling to have your loved ones nearby. So, we'd like to maintain that as much as we can. Hopefully the solution that we come up with satisfies that need."

There's no timetable on when an official decision will be made at UL. Maron said the last time the community and the University faced something like this was back during a pandemic in 1918.