Seniors share mixed emotions over 2021 commencement plans

Rose Wagner

Loyola seniors are grappling with mixed emotions after the university announced socially distanced and partially virtual and in-person plans for the moment they’ve spent four years dreaming about— graduation.

The university announced earlier today that commencement for the class of 2021 will consist of multiple in-person masses, a university-wide video ceremony that will be broadcast outdoors, and a drive-through diploma ceremony for undergraduate and graduate students.

Taylor Fontenot, music performance senior, said the moment she heard the news, she was conflicted and disappointed.

“It’s kind of annoying being a senior, having no breaks on your last semester as we are all having burnout from classes, and our reward is a graduation none of us asked for. It just seems as if the efforts of the school were not shown as much,” Fontenot said.

Ma’at Bingham, senior popular commercial music vocalist, said the plans for commencement have left her with a “whirlwind of emotions.”

“First, just a bit of disappointment toward us not having a ceremony. Secondly, I was confused. The plan is to have ‘multiple in-person masses,’ and a drive-thru commencement. I cannot speak for everyone, but I think most seniors would agree that they would prefer to have an in-person ceremony versus in-person masses,” Bingham said. “Lastly,  I know that a lot of families took the previous email to heart. Families have booked flights and hotels, and will now have to rent a car for the ‘commencement?'”

Prior to today’s announcement, the university had told students there would be opportunities for guests at commencement related events, leading to many students’ families making plans to be in town for what many thought would be an on-stage commencement ceremony.

As universities such as neighboring Tulane University have announced virtual commencements, Alani Morales, marketing senior, said she thought graduation might just be a “slideshow of my face while they say my name.”

When Loyola announced in-person graduation plans, Morales said she was relieved and excited.

“I do feel like they tried their best to make it in-person as much as they could,” Morales said. “I am really excited for the Saturday driving parade with the music and things like that. I can still be with my family and get my diploma from Tania Tetlow.”

Morales is already drawing up plans for how to make her graduation one to remember, with as many family members will fit in her car.

“We are all going to be in one car, so it’s going to be more special. Right now I am planning how I am going to decorate the car and things like that. We are going to go all out, like we’re going to have horns. It’s going to be really cool.”

“This is the best way for graduates to celebrate together and meet the city’s occupancy limits.  It also helps us maintain the flexibility for others to watch virtually from afar, for any of you and your relatives not yet ready to travel,” University President Tania Tetlow said in an email to undergraduate students about Loyola’s plans.