Some Hunter Students Will Get to Experience an In-Person Graduation This Spring

While Hunter’s main commencement ceremony this year will be virtual, some departments will allow students to attend an in-person graduation and walk across the stage. 

On April 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that indoor and outdoor graduation and commencement ceremonies would be allowed with limited capacity, depending on the event size and location. The sociology department will host an in person graduation on May 25 while the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter and the School of Education will both host ceremonies on June 1.

Based on Hunter’s Focus on Spring plan for graduation, from May 24 to June 18, the assembly hall will be set up for a maximum of three commencement ceremonies per day.  

Senior Lauren Rosen is a Macaulay Honors student at Hunter and will be attending the in-person graduation for the Macaulay Hunter program on June 1 at 1:30 pm. The number of guests each student is allowed to bring will depend on how many students RSVP for the in-person graduation, but students were able to request potential seating for up to four guests. All students know is that they will be able to have at least and possibly only one guest in the room where they graduate.

Rosen now faces the dilemma of which one of her parents will watch her graduate from the assembly hall on the first floor of the North Building and which one will watch from Kaye Playhouse.

Hunter’s Thomas Hunter building. Photo by Robert Novo

“I think having an in-person graduation gives you a final chance to say goodbye to your school and say goodbye to some people that you are not sure, you know to what degree you’ll encounter ever again,” Rosen said. “I think there’s a sense of closure that you get for an in-person graduation that you don’t get from a virtual one.”

Guests are ranked in terms of priority, according to Rosen. Whoever students rank first will be allowed in the main lecture hall and the second guest will be accommodated in the Kaye Theater, which is in the East Building. Macaulay told students they will be in touch with more specific details closer to the celebration. 

The registration will happen on the health screening app called Everbridge. This will serve as the ticket to the event and help with contact tracing. All guests are required to present proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken 72 hours prior to the event, and they are all required to wear masks. 

Although Rosen will attend one in-person graduation, she’s also a sociology major, so she could’ve attended two in-person ceremonies. Rosen said she hasn’t received an email from the department but learned that it is also hosting one from a Facebook post from another sociology major, who informed her that she missed the deadline to RSVP by May 7. 

According to the Hunter graduation focus plan, departments are allowed to have faculty and staff on stage. There will scatter a maximum of 30 socially distanced chairs for attendees.

Lauren Rosen is trying to decide how to rank her parents for Macaulay at Hunter’s in-person graduation ceremony. Photo courtesy of Rosen

Departments can decide if students are allowed to walk across the stage during the ceremony. There will also be opportunities for students to take individual photos on marked locations on stage — socially distanced, of course. 

Political science and sociology major Kirsys Reynoso took to Facebook to share that the sociology department notified her about an in-person graduation. She was surprised to hear about the in-person ceremony, by the sociology department.

“These last four years haven’t been easy, it’s kind of defeating to graduate from a computer screen, especially since I spent the better half of my college education through a computer screen,” Reynoso said. 

Reynoso said although the entire class of 2021 won’t be present, she’s happy to celebrate with friends from her department and her parents. She is allowed to bring two guests, so her parents will have the opportunity to experience another milestone in her life. 

The School of Education will be hosting an in person graduation for early childhood education students on June 1 at 9 a.m. Childhood education major Bethsy Gilot received an email invitation even though she graduated in the winter. According to recent updates from the department, Gilot is allowed to bring two guests.

“It’s essential for me to have graduation in-person because it’s a tremendous experience and it’s a milestone,” Gilot said. She said the department is allowing students to walk across the stage.

As for the rest of class of 2021, a virtual commencement ceremony will take place on May 27. Hunter College will mail each graduating student a complimentary cap and tassel as well as a commencement program packet. The virtual celebration will include a slideshow of all graduating students and pre-recorded speeches from President Jennifer Raab, guest speakers and valedictorians. 

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