UW Tacoma students with mixed responses to virtual commencement

Students react to this year’s commencement updates and the addition of an optional, in-person celebratory ceremony.

The Ledger had the opportunity to sit down with a few students to discuss their thoughts regarding this year’s commencement and celebration. The former won’t be without its safety checks, as Hynes recently explained the multiple layers of safety measures that are set to take place in order to protect the participants.

Students Paris Markley, Michael Din, Anna Xu and John Youngjune You are three among the multitude of others graduating this year interested in the addition of a new ceremony along with the changes to this year’s virtual commencement. 

Markley explained that, when asked, the students unanimously agreed they would consider using the on-campus vaccination sites.              

“I like the vaccination idea,” Markley said. “Me and my friends didn’t really want to come until we heard of it,” she explained.                                                                            

She explained that safety checks for the celebration would make the event more satisfactory because people will likely feel safer with less concerns about catching COVID, which would also make it more inclusive to those at risk of COVID fatalities.

“I actually didn’t want my grandma to come because she’s old and at risk … she really wanted to,” she said. “The vaccinations are going to make it so much better. Especially if they’re free, which might be a good thing for people who can’t afford it.”

Markley and Xu also expressed their contentment with the ceremony’s planned safety protocols. They were fond of the idea to remain in their cars before moving on to the second stop with their masks to receive a university souvenir. 

Additionally, Xu noted that she’s also happy to have the ability to get her photos taken in front of a backdrop, unlike her sister who couldn’t take any the previous year. 

Din noted that they’re ready to see the chancellor, deans, members of student affairs and temperature-checked volunteers to safely construct a fun way to end the class of 2021’s university experience. 

You was also impressed by the idea of the drive-through event. As a student who’s been to multiple campuses’ in-person commencements, he thought the in-person celebration was necessary in conjunction with the virtual commencement ceremony — which would compensate for the lack of connection students have said they felt this past year and a half.

“When I visited [my friend’s University] we were actually having a lot of fun,” he said. He then explained further that there were some downsides, such as increased anxiety around the higher number of people not taking proper safety precautions, and ultimately said the worry spoiled some of the fun for him and his friends.

“I would go to [the celebration],” he said. “Why not? Especially if it’s free.”