Last week, Zags were feeling anxious about the prospects of commencement 2020. 

Not knowing if graduating seniors will be able to experience commencement is the worst kind of cliff hanger, senior Alyssa Groscost said. 

However, Gonzaga President Thayne McCulloh tweeted a photo on Friday afternoon which might reassure some students.

“It’s Friday, and Zag 2020 Commencement planning is underway… 6’ apart! @GonzagaU #TheTasselsWillTurn #UnitedWeZag,” McCulloh said.  

 McCulloh also responded on Twitter to last week’s Bulletin article “Gone too soon: Gonzaga seniors discuss early departure concerns,” pointing students back to his tweet about the Friday meeting, again using the hashtags #TheTasselsWillTurn and #UnitedWeZag. 

The question that remains is: Will tassels be turning in person or over a Zoom conference call? 

Manager of Academic Events Angela Ruff, who attended Friday’s meeting, said it was focused on brainstorming options for commencement, keeping in mind that GU hosts three commencements every spring: undergraduate, graduate and the School of Law.

The goal of the meeting was to figure out what options the students would prefer, Ruff said. 

Ruff sent a survey to each of the graduating bodies Wednesday afternoon titled “Tassels Will Turn 2020” to discern what it is student’s actually want. 

The survey explored whether or not students are interested in a virtual commencement, or if they would prefer a delayed live ceremony. 

“It is our goal to find a way of recognizing [graduates’] incredible accomplishment and helping [them] share in celebration with [their] family and friends,” reads the survey introduction. 

The short survey had four questions. Along with gauging students’ interest levels in a virtual commencement or delayed live ceremony, it paid special attention to each graduating body. 

Students were also asked to list what they thought the three most exciting aspects of graduation would be. 

The final question gave students the space to share any additional thoughts or concerns in regards to commencement. 

Both Ruff and the survey introduction indicated that a virtual commencement could be put together in time for commencement to happen on the scheduled dates of May 8-10.

The options for a delayed live ceremony include Sept. 5-6 or sometime later in the fall.

The attendees of the Friday meeting were all focused on minimizing the disappointment many Zags are feeling regarding commencement. 

“For Gonzaga, the value of doing [commencement] together, in as personal of a way as we possibly can, is a big driver about how we behave, as a community, as a workplace, as an educational institution,” Ruff said. 

Following in the Jesuit tradition of discernment, GU has tracked commencement 2020 decisions made by other Jesuit universities across the nation. 

Updates can be found on the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities website: ajcunet.edu/coronavirus

Creighton University is the only Jesuit institution to have officially canceled its commencement this year. 

There are no virtual commencements scheduled, and 13 universities, such as Georgetown University, Fairfield University and Regis University, are planning to hold commencement in the fall for 2020 graduates. 

“We felt around the table last Friday that asking students is the most important step,” Ruff said. 

Ruff said she hoped that by sending out the survey, administration would receive a strong enough indicator to know what students want, allowing for an official announcement by Friday.

“We are going to celebrate somehow,” Ruff said.

Ginger Monroe is a staff writer.

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