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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: With COVID-19 cases rising, Trauth canceling commencement was the right call

A+billboard+that+reads+%26%238220%3Bcongratulations+class+of+2020%21%26%238221%3B

A billboard that reads “congratulations class of 2020!”

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas State President Denise Trauth made the decision to cancel in-person commencement ceremonies for the spring and summer 2020 graduates. Instead, ceremonies will be held virtually Aug. 6-8.
The decision to cancel in-person commencement was not made without thorough planning and thinking; it was made with the intention of implementing safety precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With rising numbers of cases in San Marcos, Trauth, among advisers and faculty, made the right call.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one that has put everyone’s lives on hold. With businesses shut down and normal day-to-day life disrupted, the pandemic forced many universities to shift to online learning platforms, and, unfortunately, cancel their own commencement ceremonies, leaving them to figure out alternative ways to honor and celebrate their graduates.
Trauth faced a significant amount of backlash with her decision to cancel. Over 6,000 students signed an online petition, pleading with Trauth to reverse her judgment and figure out a way to hold ceremonies in-person.
In the petition, the soon-to-be-graduates argue Trauth owes them an in-person ceremony and that more resources should be allocated to create a safe environment in which the students can be honored for their achievements. Although the students’ frustrations are valid, the threat of COVID-19 is not to be taken lightly.
What the future graduates ultimately fail to realize is that there are far too many factors impeding the safe execution of a “traditional” graduation ceremony amid a global pandemic.
Between June 11-16, Hays County reported 743 new cases of COVID-19, the county’s biggest five-day day jump since mitigation efforts went into place. As of June 16, San Marcos leads all cities in the county with 589 total cases, 496 active.
With that said, San Marcos is currently not safe enough to go out and eat at a restaurant, let alone hold graduation for over 6,000 people. No matter how you break it up—extending graduation over ‘x’ amount of days so there are fewer people or holding it at Bobcat Stadium (a suggestion in the petition)—it still will not be safe.
Even if Texas State did hold the ceremony in Bobcat Stadium, which can seat approximately 30,000 people, there is no accurate prediction as to what the weather will be like in August. Should the graduation day be met with unfavorable weather conditions, there is no safe way to allow graduates and their families to relocate inside and still maintain social distancing.
Trauth made the right decision in canceling in-person ceremonies because, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the spread will be contained by the time graduation ceremonies occur in August, especially with the divided approach the U.S. has taken.
The unsteady and staggering approaches to the virus have left Americans with the highest-recorded number of COVID-19 cases worldwide. States are reopening throughout the country, even though the virus continues to spread throughout communities as social distancing and masks become thoughts of the past.
Students complained about the timeliness of Trauth’s decision. But if the graduation was canceled closer to August, many would have been faced with last-minute travel arrangements and complications. Announcing the cancellation early allowed the student body to halt arrangements and invitations.
Due to how fluid the information over the COVID-19 pandemic has been, travel restrictions and social distancing recommendations may still be in full effect come August. Due to the constantly changing information, it is almost impossible to gauge how safe it would be to travel across the state or country by then, should students have distant family attending.
Trauth’s decision ultimately puts the graduates and their families’ safety first; there is no feasible way to hold a graduation ceremony for over 6,000 people in any location on or near campus while still following current social distancing guidelines. These guidelines were implemented in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19, a highly infectious disease.
It is heartbreaking for a student to have their graduation ceremony canceled. Many students have poured their time and money into their education, and for that final “hooray!” moment to be taken away is devastating.
However, graduates should still be proud of their hard work and perseverance to earn their degrees. Although some may not jump in the river, they will eventually have the opportunity to celebrate properly once the pandemic ends—if they have not alreadyâ . For now, safety must come first in order to stop the spread of the virus.
Stopping COVID-19 is an enormous task that takes a collective effort. Although it comes with significant sacrifices, the pandemic is not one that can simply be placed on a back burner.
The graduates, much like everyone else, should be implementing safety guidelines in their everyday lives in order to help stop the spread. The more collaborative everyone is, the sooner life can resume as normal.
– Valeria Torrealba is a public relations junior

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