Scripps College Delays Commencement; All Claremont Colleges to Postpone Graduation

Priya Canzius ’20
March 30, 2020

Scripps seniors may have matriculated into the College through Denison’s doors, but in May they will be unable to exit from them due to increasing coronavirus concerns. Following the lead of Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Harvey Mudd Colleges, Scripps and Pomona were the last of the Claremont Colleges to postpone their commencement ceremonies.

“I would like to reassure seniors and their families that the College remains hopeful that we will be able to honor Scripps’ commencement traditions and celebrate the Class of 2020 in person and that we will when it is safe to do so,” Lara Tiedens, president of Scripps College, said in an email to Scripps seniors and their families on Mar. 30.

Additionally, the College will distribute a survey to the Class of 2020 in order to determine ways for Scripps to celebrate its seniors before the end of this academic year, according to Tiedens.

In response to this email, The Scripps Voice offered 5C seniors an unofficial poll to express their thoughts about their postponed graduations (the form is no longer active and is not accepting responses).

71 Claremont College seniors responded to this poll. Percentages of respondents to this poll are as follows: 63.9 percent Scripps students, 15.3 percent Claremont McKenna students, 11.1 percent Pomona students, 8.1 percent Pitzer students, and 1.4 percent Harvey Mudd students.

Although none of the Claremont Colleges have set a date for a commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020, 31.9 percent of students responded that they would be able to attend a postponed ceremony, with 63.9 percent of students responding that they could only “maybe” attend, depending on the circumstances.

Of the students who will not or may not be able to attend the postponed commencement ceremony, 60 percent percent stated that their reasoning for not attending would be job-related, while 23 percent of respondents stated that financial reasons would prevent them from attending. Some students have expressed that commencement will be difficult to attend simply because they will be in a different stage of their life by the time they receive their diploma.

In terms of students’ preferred season for the ceremony, 46.3 percent of students voted for Fall followed by 38.8 percent of students suggesting that the event happen in the Summer.

Although many students are frustrated by the premature ending of their college experience, respondents seemed overall positive about commencement’s postponement.

“It’s nothing I didn’t expect given the circumstances, but it still is much less than ideal and nothing like how I envisioned my senior year to be,” said one respondent.

“Generally I’m just glad that they didn’t outright cancel the ceremony, especially with the way that seniors had to leave campus and finish their semester,” said another student. “I personally would love to be able to walk across the stage and celebrate the work my classmates have done to get to this point.”

“I’m heartbroken, but I also understand that it is the best decision considering the severity of the coronavirus pandemic,” said another student. “Postponing is better than canceling because it means that we will eventually get to celebrate this important milestone in our lives, even/especially as we struggle to figure out what is next when this is all over.”

The Claremont College Class of 2020 does have initial concerns about the postponement of their graduation, according to the survey. 77 percent of respondents expressed concern about low attendance and predicted that it will be due to finances, such as the cost of travel/transportation and lodging; some respondents even suggested that the Colleges set up a fund for the students and families for whom attending the postponed ceremony would be a financial burden.

“I think that postponing it is the right move, but Scripps should give students a travel stipend (or at least have a way to apply for one), especially because we’re getting so little money back from the school, despite so many programs/events being canceled,” said one respondent. “They should also give us really advanced notice.”

Another student said they are “happy they’re not cancelling, but also stressed about figuring out transportation and where to stay.”

Moreover, multiple students expressed the desire for the Colleges to have their commencements at the same time in order to ensure that the Classes of 2020 graduate together, as is typical of commencements at the Claremont Colleges.

“I think it makes the most sense for us to graduate during the same weekend as the Class of 2021 commencement, though in a separate ceremony,” said one respondent. “Not having commencement this year is unfortunate, but it is the most responsible decision.”

Due to the evolving situation of COVID-19 coronavirus, Scripps College is not yet able to provide students with critical information for the upcoming commencement, such as the date of the postponed commencement or travel and lodging considerations. According to Tiedens, “we will announce the new date to the Scripps community with enough notice for students and their families to return to campus.”

The Denison doors and Elm Tree Lawn will be waiting for the Scripps College Class of 2020 when they do.

Image Credit: Scripps College

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