The U Postpones Graduation until December, Amid Student Petitions


Graduation ceremony at the University of Utah in 2011. Chronicle archives.

By Ivana Martinez, Assistant News Editor


For the graduating class of 2020, graduation plans were thrown out the window after COVID-19 began to spread rapidly.

There were hopes that the graduation commencement would take place later in the summer or maybe even get pushed into the fall, but the University of Utah announced on Friday, April 10 that it will be holding its college convocations on Dec. 18 and 19, 2020. A virtual commencement is scheduled for April 30, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. broadcasting at

The U announced its decision to postpone graduation during an earlier press conference on the COVID-19 pandemic. After giving their students options on how to proceed with a celebration during this unprecedented time, a majority of respondents said they preferred a December 2020 convocation.

Lauren Gnat, a graduating senior studying marketing with a minor in multidisciplinary design created a petition for students to receive a proper commencement after viewing the proposed options. The petition received 979 signatures. In the petition, Gnat stated the measures proposed didn’t seem adequate. 

“I know it’s no one’s fault, the whole coronavirus thing, but I just felt that the class of 2020 should still get a proper commencement, because regardless of what’s happening, we worked hard for our accomplishments,” Gnat said.

Gnat said she was inspired to create the petition after seeing her friends at other universities write similar ones. She said before she settled into her major she switched four times, and it was a major accomplishment for her to finish in four years. 

“My business law professor Jeff Nielsen said, ‘a college degree is the only thing you can get in this world that no one can take away from you.’ And that has always stuck with me ever since he said that,” Gnat said.

Graduates are also facing the uncertainty of job unemployment, after graduation. In just four weeks, 22 million Americans have filed unemployment claims.

Sicily Romano, a graduating senior studying strategic communication signed the petition because she wanted to fulfill the rite of passage for her years of studying at the U. 

“College is this moment of — you’ve made it. You’re an adult now. You’re getting sent out into the world and now we’re not getting that celebration,” Romano said. “A lot of us are terrified that we’re not going to find a job. That I think is the biggest fear for most of us.” 

Romano said she’s unsure of what’s to come with her job prospects given the pandemic. Romano interned at POWDR, an adventure lifestyle company during this spring semester hoping to get a job after her internship was over. She has yet to hear a response. 

“I’m trying to find a way to pay rent. I just graduated college. I can’t use my degree, something you get told that you’re going to be able to use. If you go to college you’re pretty much told — at least I was told, [you] get a college degree in some kind of business or communication field and you’re guaranteed a job out of college,” Romano said in a phone interview.

“You’ll find something that might not be something that you like but you’ll find something. Now [there’s] a pretty good chance you’re not going to find anything,” Romano said. 

Romano said she’s gone online to search for her employment options and has only found two listed jobs in her field. Now she continues to stay at home waiting to see what the following months have in store. 

In a follow-up interview about the decision to move the graduation, Romano said she’s glad the College of Humanities is working on alternative options but still felt the class of 2020 deserved more.


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