John Jay Seniors Coming to Terms with a Virtual Commencement

Tasfia Arshad, Managing Editor

John Jay seniors will need to be prepared for a virtual commencement ceremony this spring.

On Friday, February 5, Chancellor Matos Rodriguez emailed the CUNY community saying that due to the “interest of public health and well-being, commencement ceremonies for those graduating this Spring are going to be conducted.”

This is disappointing for many John Jay seniors who have worked tirelessly these past few years. Specifically, for seniors like Marcela Ventura who is disappointed and feels that John Jay could have done more to make seniors feel more appreciated. 

She said, “Graduating from college as a first-generation college student is a big deal. You are setting an example for others and celebrating all those sleepless nights and breakdowns that you have to endure alone.”

Ventura’s frustration is recognized by professors and advisors who are trying their best to make an unfortunate situation. Some advisors are trying to have virtual ceremonies for their students and make virtual yearbooks.

Seniors like Lorraine Fernandes who is an International Criminal Justice major came to terms with a virtual commencement but still believe’s there could have been something done for seniors in a COVID-friendly way.

She said, “I feel like I was forced to accept that we will not have a graduation. You raise our tuition in the midst of a pandemic, while we have to compensate for virtual learning. The least we can get is a graduation.”

Fernandes is referring to the tuition hike that was passed by the Executive Committee of the CUNY Board of Trustees for an additional $150 per semester tuition for full-time students at senior and community colleges.

She also said, “It is selfish and lazy that we don’t even have the option to attend. The Superbowl showed that it is possible. They socially distanced and wore masks too. What is CUNY’s reasoning?.”

Fernandes is referring to the Super Bowl that was hosted on February 7 at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. 25,000 people attended the Super Bowl this year, 7,500 of those being vaccinated were healthcare workers. 

The Super Bowl had shown that it is possible to have a socially-distanced event. 

This news is not only disappointing for students, but disheartening for family members who were planning to do something special for their college graduates. 

Senior Jason Waitkus who is a Forensic Psychology major is not personally affected by the decision but instead feels sorry for his grandmother.

He said, “I am my grandma’s first grandchild who will be graduating college and she will not get to experience the ceremony as we have planned for so many years. It would have been an amazing experience for her to attend my graduation but now that is being taken due to COVID.”

This will not have an effect on receiving diplomas. Chancellor Matos said “At the completion of this semester, all degrees will be conferred as scheduled. Neither will it impact the official summer start date for our full-time faculty.”

The John Jay Commencement Team has not updated Cap & Gown and Commencement Details for the Class of 2021. To stay updated you can follow it here