Tulane announces changes to commencement, mixed reactions

Haley Soares, Senior Staff Reporter

This morning, March 26, 2021, Tulane University President Mike Fitts announced that the Class of 2021 commencement ceremony would be held virtually due to continuing COVID-19 concerns. 

The virtual commencement will take place at 2 p.m. CST on May 22, 2021, and will feature civil rights activist Ruby Bridges as the keynote speaker.

In addition to the virtual ceremony, Tulane will be allowing graduating graduates to walk in their smaller school ceremonies in Yulman Stadium the week of May 10, after finals have concluded for the spring semester. Final grades are due for graduating students on May 13

Graduates will be allotted two additional tickets for these smaller ceremonies in order to allow friends and family to celebrate in person while still adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. 

Some students find this news to be the predictable course of action from the Tulane administration. 

“I’m not super surprised, this honestly seems like the more sensible and foreseeable move to me,” Alec Wild, class of 2021, said.

The news began circulating this morning among the class of 2021 and the Tulane parents’ Facebook group after the commencement information page had been updated, sparking anger and confusion amongst the graduates and their families. 

“I think it’s very frustrating that they waited so long to tell us the dates and backtracked on the original dates that they had announced,” graduating senior Jack Michalski said. 

Many families have been planning travel, including flights and hotels, for several months following the initial announcement of the May 22 commencement date in October of 2020. 

“I don’t really care about walking personally but my mom has been hounding me about it for four years now and she’s already booked a date … so her plans are all screwed up, she’s probably not going to be able to come because it’s the middle of the week and she has to work,” Michalski said.

Concerns have also been raised because the new dates for walking ceremonies also coincide with the religious holiday Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and will occur from May 12-13.

A petition is now circulating throughout the community, calling on the Tulane administration to adhere to their original plans and hold all graduation activities the weekend of the 22nd. The petition has amassed nearly 2,000 signatures since its release Friday afternoon. Other concerned members of the Tulane community are opting to go straight to the top, with an email template being circulated amongst the student body in an attempt to apply pressure to the administration. Some other students are moving to boycott the events entirely in protest.