In an email sent to students at the start of July, President Dave Smith confirmed that Southern would proceed with a December graduation ceremony. The in-person graduation ceremony will be held on Southern’s campus on Sunday, Dec 13th.
According to Administrative Assistant for Academic Administration Eve Knight, “the plans for December graduation are likely to be similar to the August program, but nothing has currently been officially decided other than the date.”
For the August ceremony, students were granted four seats for their family and friends. Guests are required to wear face masks for the entire ceremony, but graduates will be allowed to remove their face masks during the processional, conferring of degrees and the recessional.
Students who are unable to attend or opt out of the in-person ceremony in December also have the option to participate in a virtual graduation ceremony or walk in the May 2021 graduation.
A registration form will be available to graduates during the semester to let the university know which ceremony they plan to attend. The deadline for this form will be before Thanksgiving break.
According to Industrial/Organizational Psychology Senior Luis Moreno, he is the first person to attend and graduate college in his family. However, with the ongoing spike in Coronavirus cases, Moreno is worried that the ceremony celebrating his accomplishment will be postponed.
“I understand everything that is being put into place is for our safety,” Moreno said. “[But] that doesn’t mean it can’t be disappointing for those of us who have to experience this ‘altered reality’ of college.”
Mass Comm Media Production Senior Kehiry Castillo is a Chattanooga resident who commutes to Southern. Castillo would like to walk in-person but said she will make a final decision based on the COVID-19 cases in the area. Throughout this whole process she has felt lucky to live near campus.
“My biggest concern is for students who don’t live in Tennessee,” said Castillo, referring to students who may live too far to leave and return for graduation. “It makes me sad that many of them will have to decide between going home for Thanksgiving Break, spending time with family or staying on campus just to attend their graduation ceremony.”
In a poll conducted on the Accent’s Instagram account, the Accent asked December graduates if they planned on returning and attending the ceremony. With 40 responses, 48 percent said they’d return and 52 percent said they would not. Graduates were also asked if they would prefer walking in the December ceremony or in May. With 38 responses, the vote was split in half— 50 percent voting December and 50 percent voting May.
Any information or updates on the December graduation will be posted on Southern’s website. Emails with this information will not be sent out to the graduates.
“The most important thing for graduates to do is to order their regalia and make travel arrangements so they can be here on December 13,” Knight said. “All other details and instructions will be updated on the website as it becomes available.”