UC Berkeley spring 2020 all-campus commencement postponed

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Chancellor Carol Christ announced in an email March 23 that the spring 2020 UC Berkeley all-campus commencement has been postponed.

Commencement, which was originally scheduled for May 16, was postponed due to the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus. There is no set date for the postponed commencement, but Christ encouraged graduating seniors in the email to take a survey as to what options they prefer. Options include participating in the December 2020 or May 2021 commencements or having a virtual celebration May 16.

“We find ourselves in uncharted waters having to make a decision about something as special as commencement,” Christ said in the email.

Various campus seniors expressed their disappointment with this announcement.

In an email, former ASUC senator Milton Zerman said this postponement was “a premature decision” and that he believes the disease could die out by the time commencement would have taken place.

Former ASUC senator Teddy Lake, however, supports the postponement of commencement, as she does not want a digitized graduation so that students can have the opportunity to attend. According to Lake, this is something important to first-generation students and working students.

ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar also agrees with the decision, adding that it is “necessary.”

“It’s something I have been dreaming about for a long time and it is a bummer that it isn’t going to happen in the way that it should, but it’s the right thing to do,” Lake said.

Namrata Subramanian, events committee chair of the Senior Class Council, shared her fear of not being able to attend a postponed graduation. She agrees with the decision, however, and said it is a better option than a virtual commencement.

“The whole premise of graduation is celebration and celebration with people that you care about,” Subramanian said. “Having it online takes away that presence. Being able to sit there with students you have been through things with and actually being handed that diploma and having someone announce your name, I mean, that is a huge deal.”

In addition to the postponement, the recent shelter-in-place order has impacted goals these seniors had for the semester.

Zerman said in an email that he will be leaving UC Berkeley with a lot of unfulfilled goals. Lake shares this sentiment, as she was set to perform in her last college musical show, which has been canceled. Subramanian added that she feels disappointed about having to cancel senior events she planned.

“This is not how I wanted my last semester to end, but I think, from my perspective, everyone is losing something,” Sarveshwar said. “There are people postponing weddings, there are people going to the hospital and some people are losing their lives.”

Contact Robson Swift at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.