Eastern students react to commencement cancellation

Theo Edwards, Staff Reporter

The commencement ceremony in December of this year for Eastern Illinois University will be canceled, disappointing many who would walk the stage.

The graduation will be canceled due to COVID-19 gathering guidelines, like the other many events that have been either modified or canceled this year.

After the cancelation that happened to spring graduates, it was offered for them to walk the stage in the December 2020 ceremony.

Many had hoped that by December the circumstances around COVID-19 would improve, however it hasn’t.

Some seniors shared their reaction to the news of this second cancelation.

Blake Meadows, second year senior and Biology major with a minor in Criminal Justice, said the announcement surprised her at first.

“At first I was shocked and didn’t believe it, but then I was disappointed because I have friends who have been waiting to cross that stage since last semester. Now my friend won’t get the satisfaction of crossing that stage, and she really deserves it because of all of the effort she has put into her education and the obstacles she has overcome through getting her degree.”

This will be the second time it was canceled for her, something she said has caused greater disappointment.

All students who have met requirements for graduation will still be receiving their Eastern diplomas, other honors, and if wanted graduates may order their cap and gowns for separate photos.

There will also by a virtual replacement held on the 19th of December, but for many students it doesn’t hold the same meaning.

Steven Forsyth, a senior majoring in social studies education, said the experience won’t match the typical celebration.

“The virtual alternative won’t be the same. I guess that is the point, but I guess it’s difficult to properly “replace” a rite of passage that we have become familiar with and conditioned to expect to happen one particular way,” Forsyth said. “Graduation has always been more treated more of an experience than a simple event, and I guess my reaction to a virtual alternative reduces it to another box they need to check for us.”

He said the virtual graduation will be missing something.

“You do lose a fundamental part of what makes ‘graduation, a graduation. There is something about being able to walk across that stage with many people watching that won’t be able to be replaced through a virtual ceremony,” Forsyth said. “These graduates deserve more than a virtual replacement.”

Forsyth shared that his experience with the cancelation was at first not much surprise but, “Then I started thinking about it over the next couple days. it’s one of those things that is always on the horizon once you start getting closer to graduating and checking those boxes, and I think it had become important for me to see that through. So I found I eased from indifference to genuine disappointment.”

Meadows said she has been disappointed with the lack of communication from the university.

“The school is not communicating at all with what is going on about COVID-19. I was very frustrated during the summer because I had my family and parents asking what I was doing, but I couldn’t answer because EIU did not inform or update us about anything. I hoped that this would change with us being back on campus but have not seen a change.”

Despite the disappointment of it, many students and their families understand the need for graduation to be canceled for the safety of campus.

Forsyth said he feels the decision had to be a difficult one to make.

“It’s a difficult decision nonetheless, and they are the ones who needed to make it. I don’t fault them for the position we were put in.”


Theo Edwards can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]