Despite social distancing restrictions created by COVID-19, the Graduate Student Council (GSC) spent its Tuesday meeting brainstorming ways to create a virtual community for the Class of 2021 in light of a likely-virtual commencement ceremony.
GSC co-chairs Kari Barclay, a fifth-year theater and performing studies Ph.D. student, and Will Paisley ’20 M.A. ’21 said that, this year, the Office of Special Events and Protocol and organizers of Commencement should hold a virtual ceremony “to not provide false hope,” but that the GSC would not provide a final recommendation to the organizers until they had an idea of what the student body thought of a virtual or in-person commencement.
“In the next three weeks, we would like to survey the student body, taking the temperature of what graduating students are looking for in this year’s commencement, whether virtual or a hybrid version,” Barclay said. “By mid-February, we have to really plan the full logistics of commencement.”
In light of the many events that had to be rescheduled and replanned to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, Councilor Sanna Ali, a fourth-year communications Ph.D. student, advocated for organizing a GSC-sponsored, COVID-safe event, combining sending gifts to students with a virtual social element, to provide a sense of community for the graduate population.
Ali said that she communicated with Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) for more guidance on how to organize such social events, but she said that EH&S’s response had been unclear.
“They told me that we are not allowed to send items to people off-campus, but they said that we can work with CAs [Community Assistants] to provide items to people in dorms,” Ali said. “In regards to certain items, they were not able to answer directly to this point.”
“CAs are able to do something within their dorms, but it’s a bummer that we cannot support people off-campus,” Ali added.
Barclay suggested that GSC could combine providing items to people on-campus with a virtual event such as cooking classes to support students living off-campus.