Good news! Maud Mandel has seen the light! Williams will be offering a graduation ceremony worthy of our community.

Williams will offer an approximately hour-long personalized celebration of the Class of 2020, to complement the earlier College wide events that will be happening on June 7, 2020. All celebrations will launch around 3 p.m. EDT, to give students and families at home a chance to break for lunch after the earlier events.

Students participating in their Group-based celebration can expect an experience that reflects the spirit of the College that they love, recognizes each of them individually, celebrates their time together over four years, and offers opportunities for real-time socializing and connection, for both them and their families.

No virtual ceremony can ever be as good as the real thing, of course. It is good that Williams, like its peers, has committed to holding an in-person ceremony as well. But students and their families come together on the day itself. Only the College can provide a way for them to gather together easily. Sounds a lot like the plan we recommended a month ago. Well done!

Oh, snap! Williams isn’t doing this (yet). The above, slightly edited, is from Harvard’s graduation today. We spend a lot of time mocking Harvard at EphBlog. And much of that mockery is deserved! But credit where credit is due. Harvard (and Bates and Middlebury and every other elite college in the country) is doing the right thing. Instead, Williams, perhaps harking back to its tradition as a rich man’s college, is doing stuff like this:

A group of seniors currently quarantining together in a cabin in Lake Placid, NY plan to celebrate their graduation by embracing the outdoors. The group, made up of some of the residents of Doughty House this past school year, plan to hike a nearby hill in their caps and gowns and call a special guest to deliver a speech. “[College official] X is going to be one of the speakers,” Y ’20 said.

I have edited out the names from this (excellent) Record article because the exact names don’t matter. What matters is the obvious discrepancy which wealth/privilege/connections create in a world in which Maud Mandel refuses to provide a centralized ceremony to which everyone is invited. When Williams cancels virtual graduation, it doesn’t cancel graduation for everyone. It just cancels graduation for the poor and unconnected. Plenty of Williams seniors will still have a meaningful ceremony, with visits from their favorite faculty and staff. Just not all seniors. For example:

Z said that her family is planning a small gathering at home to celebrate her accomplishment of being the first in her family to graduate college.

“My parents already said they want me to wear my cap and gown and dress up as if I were receiving my diploma, and they’re gonna throw me a little party, probably cook some food and just spend time together,” she said. She also stressed the importance of the accomplishment for first-generation students in particular, as graduating college is a milestone that no one else in her family has seen.

Sounds like a lovely event. If Z went to any other school in the country, her family could view a touching video as they gathered. Not as good as being there of course, but also better than nothing. Indeed, every family with a graduating senior that I know personally has made use of their college’s virtual ceremony somehow.

Oh, wait. You thought this was another EphBlog parody. Untrue! Check the link. Summary:

Rich white male seniors get meaningful virtual ceremony with participation from a college official.

First-gen, (poor?), minority senior gets nothing.

Nice job, Maud!

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