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Commencement: has the administration forgotten how to plan?

Alison Macbeth

Editor in Chief

Photo via the Providence Journal

Caps flying, billowing gowns and bright tassels - every college student dreams of their commencement. It marks the final step commemorating the hard work and sleepless nights for their education. A college commencement is important, and despite the obstacles presented by COVID-19, RIC should make every effort to host a meaningful celebration for the graduating class of 2021. But what has the college administration provided? Untimely communication and unorganized plans.

Over the past few months, RIC has offered vague announcements about the 2021 commencement ceremony. On April 5th the administration finally announced the four day graduation plan that separates the commencement exercises for each school. However, the email left out details such as how to get a negative COVID-19 test in order to participate and even more importantly, how, where and when to register. Friday’s email filled in the gaps of information and provided registration links. However, the event is less than 30 days away and RIC graduates were left wondering for weeks about their commencement.

This is not the first time the RIC administration has failed to provide clear, timely communication about a commencement exercise. In 2019, the calendar committee forgot to schedule the graduation ceremony at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. As a solution, the administration cut the semester down a week in order to still be able to hold a ceremony at the beginning of May when other local universities were not using it. With no adjustments in tuition, this left every RIC student missing a week of classes they paid for to pay and professors scrambling to condense their course material.

And this is not the first time RIC has failed to provide transparent timely communication about the college calendar. While COVID-19 has provided an endless list of challenges, RIC has not met the expectations for an organized, student-centered institution in its communication. Last summer when many universities announced their plans of how to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 during the academic year, RIC decided to make an announcement that they would be making an announcement. This was on July 15, just a little over a month before the start of the fall semester. They finally did share the plan for a completely virtual semester; however, at the cost of students’ patience and trust in the college’s ability to organize, communicate and execute said plan.

Students aren’t the only frustrated people on campus. Faculty members are losing trust and patience. Many departments have lost their administrators in the recent budget cuts. Likewise, since the administration has failed to publish a final exam schedule, faculty members are left scrambling at the end of the semester. The campus community is feeling the fatigue of a semester without a spring break. As enrollment continues to plummet, RIC also must rededicate itself to retaining students - and faculty - who otherwise may want to move to a college that demonstrates its commitment to their education through timely communication and clear plans.

While the events of the last year have provided unprecedented challenges for the RIC community, the Class of 2021 has been working for years towards this day. Things may change due to COVID - no one can be mad at RIC for that. However, the RIC administration should put students first in planning, communicating and executing their goals. President Sanchez, since this should be coming from your office, please make changes for the benefit of current and future RIC students. Stop sending emails that say there will be more details forthcoming. Make plans. Communicate them in a timely manner. Be transparent. And make RIC known for being a college that not only says they are student focused, but acts like it as well.


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