By Nikayla Goddard, March 28 2020 —
The University of Calgary Convocation ceremony and the Indigenous Graduation Pow-wow have been cancelled this spring, with the Pow-wow being moved to Fall 2020 and the Convocation being moved until November 2020. Students will not have the opportunity to gather and walk the stage, however, they will still be receiving parchments/degrees in June by mail or pick-up.
UCalgary Chancellor Deborah Yedlin released a statement on the decision, saying it was a “necessary decision in order to ensure the safety of our community. […] We are so proud of what you have accomplished during your time with us! While we will be unable to celebrate in person this Spring, I, along with the leadership team and faculty, will be standing proudly and watching you — the Class of 2020 — apply all you have learned during your time at the University of Calgary in the days, months and years ahead. We know you will make an impact in whatever career paths you choose, and wherever life takes you.”
Students set to graduate this spring overall seem to be disappointed but understanding in the decision.
For physical geography student Maria Dalton, she said she knew it was coming, but was happy to hear the decision come earlier than she thought it would. “It allows me and my family more time to look at getting our flights reimbursed,” she said, given her family primarily resides in Prince Edward Island and British Columbia.
“I’m also not as gutted about it, and I think this might be a little bit different if I was doing my Masters at a school that was different from the University of Calgary, but I’m doing my Masters at the U of C starting in the fall, so I’m going to be there anyways, so it doesn’t bother me. It’s not an inconvenience for me to have to come back to the city to go forward with my ceremony.”
Dalton also added she’s going to be doing her Masters in Epidemiology, studying diseases and health stats such as the situation around COVID-19. She explained, “I understand all of the social practices that we should be implementing in our lives, so I was pretty sure that was the call they were going to make, to postpone our graduation. Also being an employee of the university and getting our internal emails every day on top of my student emails saying what they were doing and how things were really escalating, I think was a great move by the university.”
Natalie Gordon, who is set to graduate with honours in BSc Psychology with a linguistics minor, says that she is disappointed and relieved.
“Up until I got the email [graduation] was postponed, I actually had some anxiety about it,” she said, adding that she wasn’t a huge fan of the idea of a ceremony and was also anxious as an international student to have family travelling from Texas and California.
“I still feel disappointed though,” Gordon said. “After years of working hard, making sacrifices, struggling with mental health, living on my own for the first time and in a totally new country, all to get this degree, it’s a real accomplishment to celebrate with the people who supported you and the people who made it through with you. And now that’s just kind of gone.”
While the ceremony itself is postponed and not cancelled, she said that isn’t true for many students. “For many of us I believe it’s canceled. And no one has really addressed that. Most of us will move away, international visas will expire, we will now have jobs, further education, commitments in totally new places. I don’t think a lot of us will or can come back. Come November the time to celebrate will be over and it’s just ceremony for ceremony’s sake.”
She added that she isn’t sure why the ceremony wasn’t just postponed until September instead of November, and that virtual options could be explored. UCalgary cited that they are “exploring opportunities for virtual celebrations.”