Rhode Island College, who plans to resume on campus activity for the fall, has been vague about commencement and has angered recent graduates. Focusing on the future is great but at what cost to the present students currently challenging themselves to stay afloat? Too many questions surrounding the college's actions are coming to light.
Despite former Governor Gina Raimondo’s order to strip Providence Plantations from the state’s name, diplomas for 2020 graduates still bear it. Since the college is pressed to focus on the future one would assume this shouldn’t be. Diplomas for these graduates were sent out after the executive order was passed. Graduates from 2020 and 2021 are now confused and angered by this decision.
It seems odd that the college can have plans set for the fall semester, however events regarding graduation and commencement are still vague. The pandemic has been going on for a year and this will be the second graduation ceremony to take place. Plans regarding commencement 2021 should have been set in stone before deciding on the fall semesters layout. The Community College of Rhode Island started planning Commencement 2021 right after the 2020 Commencement had ended. Being proactive allowed CCRI graduates comfort and security in thoughts of graduation.
It is still uncertain whether professors and students will need to be vaccinated to return to RIC’s campus. A higher education is essential but so is the congratulating ceremony of commencement. The college needs to focus on the retention of student success and morale, not the retention of tuition rates. RIC has been planning for the fall to enhance their student retention rate, but this has decreased the student body’s faith in RIC’s communication and actions. 2021 RIC graduates need more detailed clarification on what the college is thinking and planning. Intent to graduate forms must be filled out by April 2, and regalia began for purchase at the bookstore on March 15, but there is still no date, time or location for commencement.
The class of 2021 is waiting for information. The classes of 2022, 2023 and 2024 challenge RIC to become proactive with their commencement decisions as this pandemic is not something that will simply disappear. These subsequent graduate classes are eagerly awaiting their concerns to be heard. Students and parents have directly emailed the college angered that a tuition hike and fall plans are already in motion while commencement plans have still not been communicated. Regardless if friends, family and peers are allowed to view the ceremony in person, the graduating class of 2021 deserve an opportunity for an in-person commencement. Mask wearing and social distancing will be guaranteed as graduates only would present a smaller capacity.