Daily file photo by Colin Boyle
Northwestern’s Multicultural Student Affairs held its annual congratulatory ceremonies to honor the achievements of students within the Latinx, black, LGBTQIA and Native communities.
On April 22, NU announced all commencement ceremonies needed to be held online due to the pandemic. MSA has worked directly with student planning committees to respond to the change in plans.
“Our students are very thoughtful and forward-thinking leaders and so they knew that the implications of COVID-19 dramatically impact the communities we serve,” said Assistant Director Matthew Abtahi.
Abtahi acknowledged that many students within the LGBTQIA community are at varying stages of disclosure of their sexualities and said the office is mindful of what is posted publicly and privately.
Paid for by MSA, students who registered in either of the four ceremonies were sent a stole to a person of their choosing to commemorate the occasion.
MSA worked on addressing accessibility concerns with closed captions, translations and access to technology. According to Director Daviree Velázquez Phillip, students and staff are also dealing with the emotional challenge of unprecedented circumstances.
“There was a grieving process…but our communities are also really used to adapting and being resilient,” said Velázquez Phillip. “We knew we needed to move forward because our students deserve to be celebrated.”
Honoring both undergraduate and graduate achievements, the congratulatories highlight the importance of community on campus and beyond.
Weinberg senior Cecilia Paz, who was registered for the Latinx Congratulatory, reflected on the impact of the pandemic on the end-of-year festivities.
“For a very long time in my undergraduate experience, this was going to be the big moment,” Paz said. “So it just kind of feels a little strange that it’s not ending in this big, huge way that we’d all thought about.”
The University will hold an on-campus event for the Class of 2020 in June 2021. The announcement came after a student petition demanded the University firmly commit to a future celebration. The petition has garnered over 3,600 signatures.
“I’m a first-gen(eration) student, so I know that my family was really looking forward to me walking the stage and getting my name called,” Paz said. “(It) really would have meant a lot for them to come and see the space that I called home for four years.”
As the students experience congratulatories remotely, MSA remains committed to providing graduates support and helping improve campus life.
“Even in the midst of a pandemic and an uprising, acts of joy are also forms of resistance,” Velázquez Phillip said. “They deserve to experience a moment of celebration and joy for this accomplishment and we know that they are going to go out and make this world a better place.”
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— Armed with petition, Class of 2020 demands that University commit to postponing in-person commencement
— Schapiro: In-person graduation ceremonies to be held next June