Student Affairs plans festivities to celebrate seniors in spring and summer
Xavier University announced that it plans to hold its annual commencement on Aug. 8, after it was postponed by COVID-19 restrictions.
Additionally, Student Affairs has arranged a week of recognition for the accomplishments of graduating seniors from April 27 to May 2.
While the transition to a remote format has had an impact on the whole Xavier community, the senior class at Xavier has especially felt the
“I’ve been impacted in the same ways as everyone else– transition to online classes, moving out of my house without the chance to say goodbye to my roommates, not getting to have one last meeting with my extracurriculars or on-campus job in person, and so on,” senior marketing and business analytics major Rachel McFadden said.
“(But) as seniors, I think we are feeling the added impact of not having a ‘new normal’ to go back to. Our lives were already in a dramatic transition. COVID-19 has just exacerbated our uncertainty about walking into a struggling economy and shaken world with basically no heads-up.”
In a recorded message to students, Xavier University President Father Michael Graham said, “Seniors, my heart breaks for you in a special way,” while addressing the news that the university had made the decision to postpone commencement.
While other universities have completely canceled graduation festivities or opted for online formats, the commencement committee, co-headed by Senior Director for Student Affairs Leah Busam-Klenowski and As-
sistant Registrar Whitney Costner, have created a plan that emulates a traditional commencement ceremony as
much as possible.
In order to maintain the atmosphere of a typical Xavi- er commencement, it was decided that the undergraduate ceremony to take place at 9 a.m. and a graduate ceremony at 3 p.m., both in the Cintas Center.
According to Busam-Klenowski, there were a few criteria that the commencement committee had to consider to decide on a date. They aimed for a date far enough in the future that social distancing regulations would be lessened, but soon enough to appropriately honor graduates before they have transitioned to their next steps.
Other considerations included the availability of the Cintas Center and of Xavier University leadership.
“I am really happy with the way that Xavier is trying to hold commencement. It gives us as seniors something to hold on to and hopefully a final chance to be together as a class,” senior Molly Onders
said. “We will still have to take it month by month, but I think that Xavier will find a way to make an in-person commencement happen,” she added.
Busam-Klenowski noted that the commencement committee knows there may be issues regarding the Aug. 8 date.
“We understand that many students and their families and friends may not be able to attend this date. We also anticipate that there may be limits on gathering sizes due to COVID-19. We are working on scenario planning to address these concerns.”
As it has in the past, the university plans on live streaming the graduation to make the ceremony accessible to those who cannot attend.
There are also more event planned than just the graduation ceremony, according to Busam-Klenowski.
“As part of our planned commencement in August, we are scheduling a four day series of events. Loosely, this may include departmental gatherings and celebrations on Thursday, University Honors events and Baccalaureate Mass on Friday, undergraduate and graduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday and an alumni send-off on Sunday.”
In addition, Xavier’s Division of Student Affairs is hosting a Student Affairs Recognition Week from April 27 to May 2. Each day of the week, a different office within the department will host virtual events.
On Monday, Recreational Sports will host a Virtual Year End Ceremony with slideshow, videos and awards. Tuesday, the Center for Faith and Justice Magis Society will celebrate through social media.
On Wednesday the Center for Diversity and Inclusion will give out gala awards and celebrate seniors with a sendoff.
Thursday there will be a Virtual Student Leadership Assembly. The Office of Student Involvement will recognize the Arrupe Leaders and issue awards for seniors involved with the Student Activity Council, Commuter Services and Gallagher Student Center.
The week will close on Saturday with Residence Life recognizing this year’s Resident Assistants.
Until August, McFadden noted that all seniors can do is hope.
“Xavier has done everything they can to make the circumstances less awful. I’m grateful they are still planning on commencement and I’m hoping most of the class will be able to come back to Cincinnati for a graduation and reunion.”
“I’m just praying that, whenever we do have the ceremony, Dana’s will be open.”