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Merrimack College Explains Commencement Plans for Classes of 2020 and 2021

On Tuesday, March 30, 2021, Merrimack College informed current seniors that there would be an in-person graduation on May 13 that will be held in Duane Stadium. All students attending are allowed to bring 2 guests, and for those students who can’t attend the ceremony, it will be live streamed for all to enjoy. An email was sent later that night to the class of 2020 and 2021 as well as parents with further information. 

Students were excited by the prospect of an in-person graduation until they found out that students would not be walking across the stage. A petition was started and a number of people contacted Merrimack’s administration to complain. According to a follow-up email to the campus community on April 1, at least some of the correspondence received by the college was “inappropriate.”

This email addressed several issues that the student body has brought up, such as  the date change of graduation and that graduates can’t walk across the stage to receive their diploma. 

In regards to the date change, Merrimack College stated, “The risk in holding such events is a spread of COVID-19 on the campus that would jeopardize the health of the community and the Commencement ceremony itself. Additionally, in recognizing that families will need to come to campus to help their students move out of housing and then return for commencement at a later date, we wanted to avoid having them make multiple trips to campus, which is both an inconvenience and a potential transmission risk.” 

In regards to graduates not being able to walk across the stage to receive their diploma, the College stated, “This is being reviewed to figure out how we could logistically pre-stage students to read their names and have them walk onto the stage. To be clear, we will do everything possible to have students walk across the stage and to read student names. However, this will depend upon two factors: (1) the number of students who register to come to graduation, and (2) the number of positive cases on campus and in the Commonwealth as well as other safety considerations and data the week of graduation; that is still six weeks away.” 

The College urges all students to register their intent to attend or not attend Commencement. When the registration period closes on April 7, Merrimack College will set numbers and begin to finalize certain aspects of Commencement planning.

Students, parents, and employees can expect an update in a few weeks with new details.