(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)

Opinion: I disagree with decision to go virtual

“Calling off names is one safe way, but it’s also easy. Getting my degree was not easy.”

University of Alaska Southeast has decided to have yet another virtual commencement this year. Even a year later, with a vaccine being administered and businesses finding ways to open back up safely, UAS has decided that the only option they have is to read a list of names with our pictures splashed across a screen. I disagree.

You don’t want an audience? That’s fine; our family and friends can watch virtually. You want us to wear masks, have proof of a vaccine, rub elbows or foot tap the dean as we walk across the stage? We can work with that, too. Stagger graduation times by sections (majors, last names, degrees, etc.) for safe distancing. Just give us the option to walk. Calling off names is one safe way, but it’s also easy.

Getting my degree was not easy.

There were many late-night studying sessions, canceled plans, full-time work, mortgage and bills due, and on top of it all living through a pandemic. It’s been a long road; but now, I want to celebrate my hard-earned success — safely, of course.

Vaccine numbers are rising while COVID-19 cases are declining. How much better will it look like in May? It’s time to stop living in fear and time to celebrate. Let’s start thinking outside of the box. I’m not saying everyone is going to walk, or even wants to, but shouldn’t we have that option? For those of us who want to, don’t we deserve that extra effort?

The answer is yes, we do.

Elisha Thibodeau,


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