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Queens College offers no in-person graduation, parents push back

Despite falling case numbers and an ever-growing number of vaccinations, Queens College still plans on holding no in-person graduation due to the pandemic. The CUNY school’s decision to holdout has generated harsh criticism from parents.

“For some families, this might be the first kid to ever graduate from college,” explained one distressed parent who contacted this paper. “They could plan it in a couple of days. All they need to do is set up a tent and hand out diplomas.”

Last year, Queens College and many other schools cancelled their in-person graduation ceremonies due to the pandemic. At that time Queens College pledged to offer 2020 graduates a ceremony later in the summer or fall, yet to date no such event has manifested itself.

This year, many of New York City’s colleges and universities have returned to in-person graduation ceremonies (including St. John’s, Fordham, and Adelphi). Queens College has not followed suit, and is only planning on screening a graduation video on YouTube in early June. The stubbornness has annoyed many.

“I’m a single parent and I’ve put everything towards helping my son graduate,” explained one mother. “Why can’t they organize something just for parents and for the kids to walk and grab their diplomas?”

“While Queens College would love to have an in-person commencement this year, it simply isn’t possible,” explained Maria Matteo, Assistant Director of Media and College Relations for Queens College. “Planning began back in December for the wonderful virtual commencement celebration of the Class of 2021 that will take place at 9 am on June 3. With approximately 2,500 graduates each year, along with their family members, faculty, alumni, and QC administrators, we normally exceed 10,000 people on the Quad during graduation. It was not possible to consider an event of that size this year when we factor in the health and safety protocols in place for the benefit of the campus community. The virtual celebration will bring the campus to the graduates, as we can’t bring the graduates to the campus.”

She continued: “In order to provide a safe, health-conscious alternative, at the end of April and the beginning of May Queens College held three weekends of photo experiences on campus for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021. Additional photo opportunities are being scheduled on June 28 and 29 for those who were not able to participate during the past sessions. President Wu met student leaders recently to discuss a possible in-person graduation event of some sort in the late Summer/early Fall. We are considering this, consistent with health and safety factors, and as details are developed, it will be shared with the QC community.”

Determined parents continue to lobby the school into changing its decision, even after the June 3rd virtual ceremony.

“They had an entire year to figure out a contingency plan,” an adamant critic explained. “A graduation can absolutely be put together within two to three days by renting a tent and making an announcement. To not do anything is a mistake, especially since they [Queens College] have plenty of outdoor space.”

“I teach my kids to never give up,” said one parent. “So I’m not giving up on this graduation.”

Names have been withheld per the request of those interviewed.

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