FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington’s 374 graduates were notified via email by UMF President Edward Serna on July 15 of another postponement to their commencement ceremony. The email included a link to a survey asking the students if they were open to graduating with the class of 2021.

“You shouldn’t be able to say you’re postponing it because you don’t even know if May 2021 graduates are going to have a ceremony. No one knows,” Class President McKayla Marois said from Austin, Texas during a video chat interview. “There’s no end in sight to COVID right now, unfortunately, we all wish that there was.”

2020 Class President McKayla Marois had already purchased plane tickets in June from Austin, Texas for the now postponed UMF commencement ceremony. She still plans on flying back to Maine in August to visit her family, but she will have to miss orientation to her graduate program in order to do so.  Photo Courtesy of McKayla Marois

UMF hosted a virtual commencement in May, which had mixed responses from students, as a temporary measure to celebrate the graduates. The university announced that same month that an in-person ceremony was to take place in late August.

Marois had bought plane tickets in June to fly from Texas for the August 22, ceremony. The date of the postponed commencement was already less than ideal as it was so close to the upcoming fall semester. Marois had chosen to skip her graduate school’s orientation at the University of Texas to come to Maine for the ceremony.

In President Serna’s email addressed to the graduates, he attributed the CDC’s large gathering guidelines and recommendations as the university’s reasoning behind postponing graduation.

“Given the current regulations surrounding large group gatherings, the safety recommendations from civil authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our commitment to keeping our students, their families, and the greater Farmington community safe, we do not feel it is our community’s best interest to hold an in-person event at this time,” Serna said in his email.

Graduate Bradley Howes was looking forward to an in-person ceremony and did not quite understand the reasoning behind the cancellation.

“I get that they’re canceling the ceremony because they want to be safe, but at the same time, one week later, they’ve got 2,000 people showing up to move in and they’re not really concerned about that,” Howes said from his home in Jay via a video chat interview. “It’s a double standard, it seems like.”

Hundreds of students will be moving into UMF’s residency dorms in the days leading up to the start of fall classes on August 31.

Several graduates would prefer the university to be more realistic with their word choice and use the term cancel over postpone.

“I don’t think it’s realistic. I think UMF and the UMS system is trying to do their best to prevent hurt feelings. But the reality of the situation is, Class of 2020 didn’t get a graduation. And we should have,” graduate Faith Diaz said in an email. “The peers and professors amongst us were truly phenomenal. I wanted a graduation to thank them, to thank Amy Neswald, Misty Kruger, Jeff Thomson and many more. But the truth is, they already know how indebted I am to them.”

When Faith Diaz, left, returned to her family’s home in Washington state, her mother Amaryllis Diaz, right, surprised her daughter with a graduation celebration. Diaz said she would most likely not return to UMF for a graduation commencement at this point. Photo Courtesy of Faith Diaz

For graduate Darby Murnane, using the word postpone has set her up for continuous disappointment.

“When I left campus I was so hoping, very naively thinking, that we the United States would take this seriously and be careful and maybe we’d be able to come back in May and have our graduation ceremony even if it was later in the month,” Murnane said during a video chat interview at her home in New Jersey. “And then I found out that it was moved to August and I’m pretty sure I said the words, ‘this can be pried out of my cold, dead hands.’”

While many graduates are uncertain as to whether they would return next May to participate in a ceremony with the class of 2021, Howe said that he would still attend the postponed commencement. Although, he did say that graduating with another class “diminishes” the experience. Instead, Howe would have like to have seen UMF host some type of drive-up commencement ceremony like many high schools across Maine have done.

Other graduates such as Marois, are ready for the possibility of a graduation ceremony to come to a close.

“If we’re not having an in-person ceremony and the budget for a ceremony is $8,000, mail everyone their cap and gown and do something virtual,” Marois said. “Don’t make people pay for their cap and gown when people can’t even find jobs right now.”

President Serna did not respond to the Franklin Journal’s questions regarding the postponed ceremony.

 

 

 

 

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.