XU graduation restrictions lifted

Commencement team allows guests and is planning Baccalaureate Mass

by emma stevens, staff writer
Photo courtesy of xavier.edu
As the COVID-19 situation changes, the school’s commencement team is removing some of the safeguards that they formerly had in place. The Baccalaureate Mass will also be added to the graduation ceremony schedule.

The commencement committee announced an expanded in-person guest policy and added Baccalaureate Mass to the schedule for the upcoming commencement ceremonies.

Prior to these changes being made, the commencement ceremonies were only able to accommodate in person attendance of the graduates, divided into four separate ceremonies by college. 

When these plans were originally rolled out in early February, the maximum capacity of the Cintas Center according to the COVID-19 guidelines set by the CDC was only 900 people. To properly abide by these safety measures, in person guests for the ceremonies were not allowed. 

However, since COVID-19 has been on a general downtrend in Ohio since the early months of the year, the safety guidelines surrounding large gatherings, and therefore the commencement ceremonies guidelines, have changed. 

“The changes in COVID-19 guidelines allowed for guests to be invited. Per Governor Dewine, the capacity for the Cintas Center expanded to 25% earlier in the spring, which is about 2500 people versus. the 900 or so previously allowed in the venue,” Commencement Committee Co-Chair Leah Busam stated. 

Keeping the four ceremony structure announced in February allows for graduates attending these ceremonies to invite guests to attend the event in person. As of now, the number of guests per graduate is capped at two. However, there is a possibility of increasing that number to four. 

The ability to increase the number of guests is partially dependent on the number of graduates who have RSVPed for the in-person ceremonies. The Commencement Committee is developing a head count of attendees based on the RSVPs from graduates, which were due on Monday, April 12. 

“We are hopeful to be able to make the decision about guests this week. We will notify all graduates who submitted the commencement RSVP. They will receive an email with updates and information about picking up their guest tickets. We anticipate sending that email the week of April 19,” Busam explained. 

In addition to the prospect of having two to four guests per graduate attending the commencement ceremonies in person, graduates can also look forward to the addition of the Baccalaureate mass to the schedule of commencement events. 

Last year the event was not held virtually or in-person, and the original commencement plans for 2021 did not include the Baccalaureate mass either. However, the event is back on the commencement schedule as a virtual event. 

Reverend Abby King-Kaiser, director of the Dorothy Day Center for Faith and Justice, explained that the event will likely remain remote regardless of the changes in COVID-19 guidelines between now and then. 

  “It is hard to predict, but I do not expect the possibility of this becoming an in-person event. This tradition always includes student leadership, and so students are involved in the planning and will be involved with the liturgy,” stated Rev. King-Kaiser. 

Despite its virtual format, the event will have great significance for graduates and the Xavier community due to it being a form of farewell from Father Graham, outgoing Xavier University president. 

“We are most excited that this will be Fr. Graham’s last homily and chance to preside at mass as the president. His homilies have always been beloved by the student community, so we hope this is a special moment for both this graduating class and for him,” Rev. King-Kaiser said. 

With in person guests and the baccalaureate mass being added to the festivities of the 2021 Commencement Weekend, a sense of normalcy is returning to the graduation process. For any further updates or information regarding commencement or Baccalaureate mass, visit the Xavier Commencement website.