At long last, Kenyon has issued an announcement about Commencement for the 37 second-semester seniors, many of whom took a semester off during the pandemic. We are grateful for this decision, as these students will now be able to walk with the rest of their classmates and experience a true conclusion to their Kenyon career. They have certainly worked hard and earned this moment.
Still, the College must be conscious that there is still work to be done. Planning events for second-semester seniors will prove to be a recurring issue, given the number of students from every class year who took time off during the pandemic.
Thanks to the work of Senior Class President Grant Holt ’22 and Delaney Gallagher ’23, this December’s Commencement ceremony has set a precedent for years to come. Due to College policy, December graduates will not receive their diplomas at Commencement. Still, they will be allowed to walk as members of a graduating class, which typically has not been the case in previous years. Kenyon should extend this exception to all future classes who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and allow students to walk with their original classmates at graduation.
On top of Commencement procedures, students who are currently second-semester juniors have received little information about whether they will be able to participate in traditional senior activities. If December graduating students are not allowed to participate in these events, they will likely never have the opportunity to, as most events occur in the spring. Senior Soiree and Fandango are rapidly approaching, and it is not yet clear whether these students will be able to join their friends in celebration. Why should so many students, who have been delayed in graduating due to external circumstances, be turned away from gathering altogether as a class one last time?
This year, we urge the Kenyon administration to make an exception and soften the protocols regarding Commencement and senior events for those who are set to graduate a semester later than their original classmates. It is an understatement to say that this year was like no other, and the College should remember that we cannot compare these second-semester seniors to those who came before them. After such a difficult a year, we need these moments of celebration, and we should not remain inflexible in the face of changing circumstances.
Although all of our diplomas may not be ratified or handed to us at the same time, students who entered Kenyon together should be able to share their final moments together as a class. The College should invite these second-semester seniors to come to graduation — even if they cannot officially graduate just then. Deferring a semester for COVID-19-related reasons should not bar our classmates from walking at graduation. It is truly a privilege to participate in Senior Sing, walk with your classmates, share in the speeches and celebrate the special moment of graduating with friends and family.
We call on the College to recognize these students as important members of our graduating class. Senior events are incredibly memorable and special for all of us. Seniors should be able to celebrate their accomplishments, and do so with the people who helped them get there.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Jordy Fee-Platt ’22 and Linnea Mumma ’22, managing editor Amanda Pyne ’22 and executive director Joe Wint ’22. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.