Class of 2021 start petition for in-person graduation

Veronica Wernicke, News Editor

The petition started by “UNCW Class of 2021” has already been signed by over 750 people and urges the university to move the ceremonies in-person in light of the governor’s recent executive order

In response to UNC Wilmington’s (UNCW) announcement that the spring 2021 graduation ceremonies would be virtual due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), a petition pushing to change that has started.

The main argument is that the class of 2021 has had to endure a lot throughout their college careers and deserve to have their hard work properly celebrated. 

The petition lists the lost month of classes due to Hurricane Florence in the fall of 2018, the quick evacuation and lost week due to Hurricane Dorian in the fall of 2019, the disruption of classes in the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and of course, the entire past school year which has been a mix of online and hybrid courses. 

“While other UNC schools had climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases, our university was quick to adapt and change policies. Through these efforts, UNCW was able to keep positive COVID-19 cases stable and allow residential students to remain on campus. Currently, weekly COVID-19 testing allows those with positive tests to quickly alert those around them and prevent further disruption,” as stated in the petition. 

The university recently updated its on-campus capacity numbers to 25 indoors, 50 outdoors and ticketed events may not exceed 30% capacity. This decision was made in response to the governor’s recent executive order 195. 

“We value the input we have received from the Seahawk community thus far, and we will reach out to the Class of 2021 for more feedback before considering a change in plans. We will share additional announcements with the Class of 2021 and the UNCW campus community as more information becomes available,” the university wrote in an announcement put out on March 2. 

However, on March 4, the office of transition programs emailed spring 2021 graduates asking for their input. 

“We have compiled a survey that outlines three options that we are exploring and would ask that you take a moment to provide your feedback. While we are still receiving more information about how we can maintain all health and safety guidelines and abide by restrictions, we cannot guarantee these options can be implemented. However, we will use your input alongside guidance from Governor Cooper, New Hanover County officials and UNCW administration to provide the best experience possible for the Class of 2021,” as written in the email. 

Spring 2021 graduates have until March 11 to fill out the survey.

As the emails stated, at this time it is unclear whether the university will change the ceremonies to in-person or another form. 

“We are urging the university to review the numerous challenges this class has endured these past four years, and remind them of the university’s ability to adapt to different unexpected emergencies. We ask the university to do that once again by providing us with a socially distant in-person graduation,” as stated in the petition.