By Jennifer Rosales
The rite of passage of any graduating student is to have their name called out, their hand shook and to walk across that stage in front of their peers and families.
But due to COVID-19, a traditional commencement is not safe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since large gatherings and community events help contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.
Riverside City College’s commencement was to be held June 12 but Riverside County Public Health Officer Cameron Kaiser has extended closures for county schools and colleges through June 19.
RCC President Gregory Anderson said that no decisions have been made about commencement. The committee responsible for planning the event will make suggestions to the college’s senior leadership and they will come to a decision at a later date and inform students via RCCD student email.
“It is also likely that the chancellor and Board will have a role in any decision as well,” Anderson said.
Norco College President Monica Green said Norco is exploring options for an alternative, nontraditional commencement for graduates.
“We are not looking to postpone or cancel commencement as it is the biggest event we plan every year to honor our student graduates,” Green said. “Before making a decision, we will seek feedback from our students on what would be most meaningful for them.”
Norco College Academic Senate President Quinton Bemiller also confirmed that the colleges are looking at nontraditional alternatives for commencement rather than canceling or postponing it.
There are many concerns when it comes to virtual graduation and how it will work.
“Points about stable connection, family members and personalization are all good ones,” Anderson said. “The committee will definitely be including those factors in their decision.”
Academic Senate President Quinton Bemiller said that if the colleges have a virtual commencement they would still have all the speakers as normal, and that student’s names would still be read. There are companies that specialize in facilitating virtual graduations, and the colleges might use one of those companies if they cannot facilitate it in-house. Families will also be able to view the virtual graduation.
RCC Puente Club member Madeline Lopez expressed both disappointment and understanding for a possible virtual graduation.
“I feel like I’ve worked very hard to transfer and earn my degree and that privilege is being taken from me,” Lopez said. “But ultimately everyone’s safety is more important. It is what it is.”
More information will follow.