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Student Leaders Urge Seniors Not to Return to Campus for Graduation Weekend

by on May 07, 2020 4:50 AM

More than a dozen Penn State student leaders have urged seniors not to return to campus in the coming days for what would have been their graduation weekend.

In a letter also signed by Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, they encouraged students to stay home and maintain social distancing in order to help ensure the fall semester can begin as planned in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, which moved the second half of the spring semester online. Instead, they affirmed that there would be a time for the Class of 2020 to celebrate in person at a later date.

“A piece of our legacy must be protecting our Alma Mater during this time,” the letter read. “All of us wish that things could be different. We want the opportunity to see each other again, to remember the past several years together, and to recall why Penn State means so much to us. We can’t do that now, but the time will come. We WILL have our last hurrah together when it is safe to do so.”

The letter was signed by heads of organizations such as THON, Interfraternity Council, and the University Park Undergraduate Association and student-athletes like volleyball player Kendall White and wrestler Nick Lee.

The university plans to employ a two-phased commencement where degrees will be conferred virtually this weekend and graduates will be recognized with an in-person ceremony at a later date.

“Your deep commitment to that fundamental human purpose is how the Penn State Class of 2020 will always be remembered. We will see each other again in the future, and at that time, we will celebrate,” the letter concluded.

The full letter is below:

Dear Students— 

We share, as you must, the disappointment that comes with the continuing ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. This school year and our time together have not progressed as we all hoped that they would. Friendship and activities, the Blue-White Game, the end the semester, and even the end of college for some us, have not been what we imagined or what we’d looked forward to. Unfortunately, though, we cannot escape the reality or the gravity of our current situation.

As we approach the dates originally planned for in-person Commencement ceremonies, we all feel the desire to return to State College for one last hurrah; the impulse to do so is certainly understandable. However, Penn State’s fall semester and future lie in the wake of the decisions that we make today, and a return to State College could jeopardize that future. The health of our community is paramount, and we must acknowledge that now is not the time for our reunion in State College.

To the Class of 2020: We acknowledge that your time as a student at Penn State may well be over, but we must consider the importance of doing everything in our power to preserve the Penn State futures of younger generations. A piece of our legacy must be protecting our Alma Mater during this time. All of us wish that things could be different. We want the opportunity to see each other again, to remember the past several years together, and to recall why Penn State means so much to us. We can’t do that now, but the time will come. We WILL have our last hurrah together when it is safe to do so.

Until the time to come together does return, please stay safe where you are, if you can; continue to socially distance; avoid unnecessary travel; and keep yourself and those you love safe and well. Your deep commitment to that fundamental human purpose is how the Penn State Class of 2020 will always be remembered. We will see each other again in the future, and at that time, we will celebrate.

For the future that we wait, 

Nate Brodsky
Interfraternity Council President

Rachel Cook
Panhellenic Council President

Regina Duesler
Executive Director, THON 2020

Laura McKinney
University Park Undergraduate Association President, 2019-20

Alex Moon
Lion Ambassadors President, 2019-20

Fatima Odebisi
Black Caucus President, 2019-20

Zack Sowa
Nittany Lion Mascot, 2017-20

Dan Stauffer
University Park Allocation Committee Chair, 2018-20

Julia Greco
Executive Director, Homecoming 2020

CJ Thorpe
Penn State Football

Nick Lee
Penn State Wrestling

Pierre Reedy
Penn State Men’s Soccer

Kendall White
Penn State Women’s Volleyball

Kate Rydland
Penn State Women’s Ice Hockey

Damon Sims 
Vice President for  Student Affairs



Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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