Middlebury held its virtual commencement yesterday.

While we’re planning to hold a full, in-person Commencement at some point in the future, we’ve celebrated and honored the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 with our online Senior Celebration.

The video is impressive. I bet that a majority of seniors and their families watched it live and enjoyed it. (Do we have any Panthers amongst our readers?) The musical interludes with pictures of the seniors — their friends, their sports, their adventures, their music, and their mountains — are beautiful.

I found myself watching ten minutes of it, and I don’t know any of these people!

A score of Middlebury Departments also held Zoom receptions for seniors. (And their families?) Raspberries to my former colleagues in Economics who seemingly failed to do so. Middlebury’s use of social media to mark the occasion — Twitter, Instagram — works well.

Why wouldn’t Williams put on an event like this in two weeks? Laziness, stupidity and stubbornness are the most likely reasons. If only 50 seniors and their families attend, isn’t it still worth it, given that the cost is zero? Any senior (and her family) who don’t want a virtual commencement — as I am sure there were a handful at Middlebury — can simply choose not to attend.

UPDATE (from comments below):

> 90% of students said they didn’t want it

What garbage. From the Record:

The form had a two-thirds response rate among seniors, more than 90 percent of whom preferred a rescheduled in-person ceremony with traditional senior-week and class-day events.

First, 1/3 of the students did not return the survey. Does that mean we can assume that they want a virtual commencement? No! Nor can you assume that they don’t want it. All we can know is that they did not care enough, one way or the other, to express an opinion. If an event is free and some students (10%?) want the event, and 1/3 of the student don’t care enough to express an opinion one way or the other, then you should have the event (assuming it has no negative effect on the 60% who voted No).

Second, note how the Record frames the issue — “preferred a rescheduled in-person ceremony.” Reporter Rebecca Tauber (who we know to be competent) interpreted the survey as a choice: either you get a virtual commencement in June or you get an in-person commencement on 2021. We know other students who interpreted the survey that way as well. Given what we know — and we have not seen the form — I would have interpreted it that way as well, and voted for 2021! But that is not the same thing as objecting to a virtual event — which I do not need to attend — in June.

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