Class of 2020 zaps Nov. commencement; college to poll newest ‘alumni’ for ideas

Crier Staff

Following the announcement of a plan to hold a graduation ceremony for the Saint Anselm College Class of 2020 in late November, there has been widespread outcry from members of the class concerning the timeliness of this plan. While the scheduling does account for current students of Saint Anselm College to not be on campus at the time of Commencement, the Class of 2020 has started an online petition to postpone this ceremony to Summer of 2021. Printed below is a message written by several members of the class that can be seen on the petition page:


“The Saint Anselm College Class of 2020 is deeply unsatisfied with the plan for our in-person graduation ceremony to be held in November 2020. We were promised a ceremony that would allow us to celebrate our scholastic achievements with our friends and family, but the current plan does not allow this to happen. For the following reasons, we find the plan for the members of the Class of 2020 to return to campus for graduation in November unacceptable:


-While the country is still fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (which is predicted to continue through the winter), it is foolish to bring together people from all over the country. As the plan stands now, for those recent graduates who do not live in New England, the quarantine laws essentially prohibit them from attending. This is unfair to both those recent graduates and the friends they have made during their years on the Hilltop.


-While New Hampshire’s current quarantine guidelines do not require visitors from New England to quarantine, students returning home to other states after the ceremony may have to quarantine for up to two weeks before they are able to return to their usual routine, including work or taking care of home-bound family members. For students who are employed, especially those who are medical professionals and other essential workers, it may not be possible for them to take that much time off while still keeping their jobs. 


-For students who are at high risk or who live with high risk individuals, attending an in-person graduation ceremony (even socially distanced and masked) still poses a serious threat to their health and the health of those around them. 


-The current proposed date (November 21st) is only a short time before Thanksgiving, a holiday for which many people travel to visit family. For those who are traveling to an area where they would need to have quarantined before Thanksgiving, attending graduation in person would not be possible.


-Graduation is a time for us to celebrate with our families, who have supported us for four years as we have worked towards our degrees. The current plan does not allow them to attend the ceremony in person, which eliminates a significant part of our reasons for wanting to walk at an in-person graduation ceremony.


-With the current economic downturn and the difficulties many members of the Class of 2020 are having to find employment, requiring them to travel during a pandemic causes further financial strain on many and discriminates against the graduates who are unable to afford either the travel or the time away from work.


With so many obstacles limiting the potential participation of such a large percentage of the Class of 2020, it is clearly not worth the risks to hold an in-person graduation ceremony in November.

The Class of 2020 would love nothing more than to be able to attend an in-person graduation, and we are deeply saddened and disappointed by Saint Anselm College’s decision to hold that in-person ceremony in November 2020. We would like to put forth the suggestion that the Class of 2020’s in-person graduation be rescheduled to the summer of 2021, as by that time the COVID-19 pandemic and the risks associated with an in-person graduation ceremony will most likely be significantly reduced. 

By waiting until is it truly safe to congregate, the friends and family of the members of the Class of 2020 would be able to attend, members of the class from outside the New England region would be able to attend, and anyone at high risk of significant complications or death from COVID-19 would be able to attend. As the world is still in the process of learning how to keep everyone safe from the global pandemic, it would be an unwise decision to hold an in-person graduation ceremony in 2020 rather than further postponing it to 2021, at which point more progress in that direction will have been made.

We know that Saint Anselm College prides itself on caring about its students and alumni. Please do not prove the opposite by brushing the Class of 2020 off with a rushed graduation ceremony in November. We have already waited this long to be able to celebrate our time on the Hilltop; let our graduation ceremony be one we all can attend in person with our loved ones at a time when it is once more safe to do so.”