Roosevelt hosts Grad Walk event with COVID-19 restrictions

by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Assistant Editor

2021 graduation cap. Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Despite the disappointment and anger that came with the virtual ceremony that was held last year for graduates, this year’s graduates were notified that they will also be having a virtual ceremony on May 7 where each graduate will be able to submit a photo and a message to be recognized on Zoom.

To keep up with tradition, however, this year’s graduates were given the opportunity to walk across the Auditorium stage from March 25 to March 27. However, students were only able to invite one family member to the event. 

“Walking across the Auditorium stage is an important tradition we want to give to our graduates,” the university said in an email regarding the event. However, seniors were also notified that they could bring only one family member to practice a safe and socially-distanced event. By practicing safety protocols, seniors were given the opportunity to have their photos taken and pick up their diploma covers and a free graduation gift. 

“With them only allowing us to have one person, it makes me not want to come just because I’m not going to have the people who helped me get this far celebrate with me, and I know that they would love to see me cross the stage,” said MeKayla Lanford, a senior finance major. “I know there are some restrictions with COVID, but something that they could do is allow my family to see me cross the stage. That’s a big thing for me.”

Lexy Navarro, a senior majoring in business and administration, said that she thinks that Roosevelt is handling graduation properly and carefully, but she is still not happy about only being able to invite one other person. “I am not too happy about bringing one guest to graduation because graduation is a place where you and your family celebrate the work and dedication that was put into the past four years.” 

In the email, students were also guided to the website to order their caps and gowns. However, students said that they disagreed with having to pay $80 for the items since so much was already taken away from them.

“Tuition is already high, and with COVID, we’re not even getting the full experience,” said Lanford, adding that she plans to move back to Texas and work in the mortgage field post-graduation. 

“I think the cap and gown should’ve been free due to us being limited and also not having a normal graduation,” Navarro added. 

Michael Kirby, a senior majoring in voice performance and musical education, said, “I think that making people pay is annoying because a lot of us have had financial struggles this year, and if they’re going to be taking away a lot of our graduation experience, we shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

Kirby, who is graduating in May of 2022 since he’s double majoring, said he hopes to see changes to next year’s graduation. “I am looking more forward to next year just because it will be better. We might have an audience and more people could walk the stage with us. But if I were having it this year, I would be disappointed because COVID has taken away a lot of it.”

“I do think the graduation guidelines will change in the future due to people getting vaccinated and taking the proper care to not deal with COVID anymore,” said Navarro.

The email also said masks must be worn at all times except when being photographed, and that the graduation walk was open to all graduates from summer and fall 2020 and spring 2021.

Medina Husejnovic, a graduate student who received her master’s degree in clinical and counseling psychology, said that she enjoyed being able to walk across the stage.

“I thought the Grad Walk was really efficient and the process was smooth. Everyone was understanding and explained the next steps so that we could graduate safely. Overall, it was a pleasant experience, and I’m grateful that they provided us with the opportunity.”

“I think Roosevelt handled the situation in a fair manner. It was planned out really well considering we are in a pandemic and no one else is allowing students to experience a graduation walk,” Husejnovic said. “Everyone was really nice and made us feel like we weren’t in a pandemic.”

“Everyone deserves to celebrate graduation,” said Navarro.

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