MNSU orders another virtual commencement; students not happy

For the second year in a row, spring commencement at Minnesota State University, Mankato has been cancelled due to COVID-19. 

While students say they understand the decision — the virtual event is set for Saturday, May 8 — they still feel empty leaving campus without the traditional celebration.

MNSU senior Lissette Garza, earning her degree in dental hygiene, said the decision leaves her regretful. 

“I feel like cancelling the spring commencement made the ending of this semester seem just like any other,” she said. “I was hopeful that the school would come together to figure out better options for us since the vaccine has been out and CDC guidelines are changing. I don’t feel like I’m accurately celebrating this accomplishment.”

Julia Wilson, a MNSU senior graduating with a degree in English language arts education, said she agrees with the precautions made following the cancellation.

“I think this was the right thing to do,” she said.

Following the decision to eradicate the spring commencement, students begin to question what other options the school could have made to honor the class of 2021.

“To my knowledge, we had the virtual slideshow (and) we could submit a picture for the 15-minute walk through the ballroom and get a picture taken,” she said. “It seemed like the school was trying to do more for us, but it was only offered Monday-Wednesday.” Garza also pointed out how many families might not be able to access this option due to distance and other commitments. 

With lower COVID numbers and more vaccines rolling out, Wilson wished MNSU could have done something more. 

“It would have been fine to have some modified form of graduation,” she said. “However, they didn’t have the ability to predict the decrease in numbers.” 

President Richard Davenport announced commencement cancellation in a March 3 email. He said the university pursued other options for graduating students to explore, which included a professional photo session, a virtual commencement, and an invitation to be honored at the next in-person commencement, whether that be in the fall or next spring.

Despite all of this, both Garza and Wilson said they’ve found new ways to proclaim their academic successes.

“Instead of being able to attend commencement, I will be having a mini graduation party with my immediate family,” Garza stated.

Wilson, on the other hand, will be celebrating multiple events in one. 

“I’m actually getting married the day after, so I’m celebrating with my family in town and with my wedding,” she said.

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