Families of UVM students disappointed over decision to exclude Spring 2020 grads from in-person ceremony

Local News

As more people are getting vaccinated against COVID-19, colleges are resuming graduation ceremonies on campus. The University of Vermont will hold in-person commencement over two days, to allow for social distancing. Families of last spring’s graduates say they feel cheated.

“How can you not recognize these kids?” said Darcie Fisher, the mother of a 2020 grad. “They are just as deserving and they’ve worked just as hard.”

Fisher’s daughter Jillian was part of UVM’s class of 2020, one of thousands of college seniors nationwide who were denied a traditional commencement by the pandemic. UVM recently decided that its 2021 ceremony will include winter 2020, and summer 2020 grads, but not the spring 2020 class. It’s not sitting well with Fisher, and others.

“It sort of brings back the hurt from last year,” Fisher said. “We understand the unprecedented times and situation the pandemic created for the university. It’s not their fault they couldn’t do this last yea,r but it is their fault that they’re not recognizing the spring 2020 graduates right now.”

VP of Operations and Public Safety Gary Derr explains that at UVM, students enrolled in coursework beyond May are automatically included with the next calendar year of graduates.
COVID did not change that policy.

“Some other institutions have a fall and spring graduation,” Derr said. “We just have one that includes everyone from the previous.”

Derr adds that the decision had to be made by February, when many restrictions around travel and gathering sizes were still in place. He ensures the university is working to plan something for its spring 2020 grads.

“We cant take 2 classes and combine them and potentially have 5-600 students,” Derr said. “We’re trying to figure out the right thing to do, just give us some time.”

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