UPDATE: Class of 2020: Forgotten


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University of New Haven’s Centennial Class is not receiving adequate communication from administration, according to students.

Anna Downs, Editor-in-Chief

UPDATE: As stated by university administration last week, today, Steven Kaplan addressed the class of 2020’s concerns about the tentative date of a virtual commencement, as well as the status of the delivery of regalia.

“We are still planning a virtual celebration to take place in June, and our planning committee is working diligently to ensure this is an event worthy of you and this special time in your lives,” Kaplan wrote in the email regarding commencement, “As I have indicated in the past, this event is not intended to be a replacement for our in-person ceremony. I still have every expectation that the University will host an in-person Commencement at a time when it is safe for all of us to gather again. We are currently anticipating this will happen in December 2020 and will provide updates once we know more.”

Kaplan reiterated to students that the university did not cancel the class of 2020 commencement and shared the university’s lack of awareness regarding students’ desire to receive their cap and gown. Kaplan promised the class of 2020 that they will receive the cap and gown by the virtual commencement ceremony in June.

“I should note that when we decided in March to postpone rather than cancel Commencement, we did so with the understanding that this was your — and my — top priority. We had planned to provide you with caps and gowns at that time for the in-person ceremony. In truth, we did not anticipate your strong desire to have those items available to you either for your own recognition of the original May 17 date or for the virtual ceremony. We’ve heard you loud and clear, and we are making every effort to provide caps and gowns in advance of the virtual ceremony in June.”

Kaplan shared his respect for the class of 2020’s resilience. “Thank you again for your patience and understanding. What gives me great optimism is that — like the nearly 100 classes that graduated before you — the Class of 2020 is equipped with the skills and knowledge to address the issues that confront us and the challenges we, as a society, will face, not only in the immediate future but also in the years to come.”

Two months ago, the University of New Haven suspended on-campus classes and activities. As students finish the spring semester from afar, the class of 2020 eagerly awaits updates for a commencement celebration.

The most recent update came from university president Steven Kaplan on April 24. In the email Kaplan said, “We will hold an in-person ceremony when it is safe. In addition to the in-person ceremony, we are also moving forward with plans to hold a virtual celebration in late May or early June.”

The university’s commencement webpage repeats Kaplan’s response with the tagline, “Virtual and In-Person Commencements Being Planned.” The webpage is also a source for more frequently asked questions regarding commencement.

With no other updates, students are anxious for answers. Graduating students have voiced their thoughts and concerns on the Class of 2020 Facebook Group about receiving commencement regalia as well as asking for a date for the virtual ceremony.

The university’s commencement webpage says, “Regalia will be available for all graduates once the date for an in-person ceremony is determined. Students who are unable to participate in the in-person ceremony will have the opportunity to order and have their regalia shipped at that time.”

Anthony Bruno, a senior sport management major, shared on the Class of 2020 Facebook Group on May 6: “When will we be receiving caps and gowns. I know this question has already been asked numerous times, but I find it just impossible to believe that I am now seeing multiple university seniors in surrounding areas receiving their cap and gown, yet whenever we ask the question out it seems to be dodged…”

Students responded to the post with outrage. Some shared links to purchase a cap and gown themselves, and said the university’s actions around graduation were “no longer a priority” and the lack of updates is a “slap in the face.”

Sacred Heart University and University of Connecticut celebrated virtual commencements this weekend. Quinnipiac University shared a clip of its facilities team painting a note of congratulations to the class of 2020 on campus grounds, and also created customizable banners and coloring pages. Southern Connecticut State University students still await their regalia, but each senior is being sent a lawn sign and t-shirt at no charge.

University of New Haven graduating students still wait to celebrate with the institution.

On May 10, the administrator of the Class of 2020 Facebook Group, Charlie the Charger, shared that an update on a virtual commencement ceremony will be shared early this week.