Photo courtesy of UNR Spring 2017 Commencement at the University of Nevada, Reno.

In an email to University of Nevada, Reno graduating students, President Marc Johnson announced that Spring 2020 graduates would have the choice to participate in the December 2020 or Spring 2021 graduation ceremonies.

On March 24, the university announced a virtual commencement ceremony would be held on the same dates as the original ceremonies. In response, an online petition entitled “Our spring graduation commencement postponed instead of online” earned over 16,000 signatures in six days.

“The graduating class of 2020 has put in 4+ years of hard work, time, and money,” the petition description read. “We are owed and have earned the right to a proper commencement ceremony. I propose that the University postpone graduation until the fall so that those who want to walk may walk. Students can still receive their diploma in the Spring, but we should not be given an online ceremony due to this pandemic.”

According to the email from President Johnson, the university saw that an online commencement was “rejected” by student leaders and graduating students.

“In considering the many options for providing you with a celebration of your achievements, we were not confident that the health concerns of our state and nation would be eased in the months ahead,” said Johnson in the email. “You deserve to have a unique time to share the joy of your achievement and the bonds of this trying experience.”