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OSU schools work to celebrate 2020 graduates

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Graduates walking

Don't give up on graduation plans just yet.

With the graduation ceremony being cut from OSU’s plans this year because of COVID-19, several colleges across campus are planning their own celebrations for graduating students.

Of course, the traditional plan of shaking hands with thousands of people can’t happen, but replacing the annual celebration with distancing is something for graduates to look forward to. 

President Burns Hargis said he realizes that graduation won’t look the same, and he feels for his students.

“There’s no way we can replicate what we normally do,” Hargis said. “I’m as sick about it as anybody.”

Hargis said that he loves the traditions of being with students full of excitement. 

“They’re going to have pictures of themselves sent in at graduation with the name called and things like that,” Hargis said. “But you won’t have the energy, the incredible energy. I love telling students to change their tassels, that is a fun thing to do.” 

Hargis told individual colleges to come up with its own plan for graduation in a safe manner. 

Hargis also said that the graduates won’t have to leave empty-handed.

“I’ve encouraged the deans to come up with ways that the departments can have ceremonies being socially distanced and wearing masks and all of that,” Hargis said. “We’re going to do gift boxes for all our graduates, which is pretty nice.”

The College of Arts and Sciences is planning to meet two days with six different sections that consist of a get together in celebration. The socially-distanced celebration will be Nov. 21 and 22. 

A recognition for graduates with their peers will take place in the Student Union theatre. There will be no guests or family allowed, but the college is working with the O’Colly Media Group to live stream through the O’Colly Media Group app via smartphone. 

Bobbi Kay Lewis, the associate dean of outreach and communications is in the College of Arts and Sciences. She said it’s a nice alternative to replace the real deal. 

“Students are going to be able to walk across a stage and be recognized, but we’re doing it in really small gatherings and practicing social distancing," Lewis said.

Lewis also understands there is still dismay in the air for students graduating. 

“I think students are disappointed because earning a degree is hard work and that whole commencement celebration culminating that hard work is important to people,” Lewis said. “We completely respect the university’s decision but having large gatherings is just not safe at this time.” 

In the College of Education and Human Sciences, Adrienne Sanogo, the associate dean for academic programs and student services said the school went a different route, but hopes to see the graduates in-person at some point.

“We know that our students and their families are disappointed that there will be no in-person celebration or ceremony this semester,” Sanogo said. “However, we hope that students understand the gravity of the situation and the need for caution, especially since the number of cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Oklahoma.”