Coronavirus, Op-Ed, Opinion

Op-Ed: Student Concerns Regarding Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author(s). 

Roma Patel is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dear President Brown,

By now, I am confident you have heard many of us voice our concerns about Boston University’s handling of COVID-19.

As our last bit of time at our beloved school has been taken from us — a formative part of our entrance into adulthood — I imagine that you recognize that this is a very emotional time for the Class of 2020. We have been deprived of the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to our school, professors and fellow Terriers.

While we are aware that BU’s administration had no choice but to terminate in-person classes for the semester due to the severity of COVID-19, we fear the institution’s next steps in handling this situation. It is both distressing and heartbreaking to be unaware of how our university, which we have fervently supported for four years both vocally and financially, will celebrate the Class of 2020’s achievements. 

BU has been a remarkable place for us to grow as individuals. Through time in the classroom with incredible professors, we have cultivated our curiosities and reached new intellectual heights. Through student organizations, internships and jobs, we have discovered our passions and become committed to developing them.

Through our peers, we have learned genuine friendship, love and empathy. Every second of our college career has helped shape us into the people we are today. These have been the best years of our lives, and we cannot help but feel immense gratitude and joy when reflecting upon them. 

Commencement is a right of passage for every university student. We have looked forward to throwing our graduation caps up into the air on Nickerson Field and stepping on the seal in Marsh Plaza since we first arrived on campus. The thought that these events may not occur is upsetting for all of us. 

In this moment of flux, it is imperative that our school’s leadership remains committed to its students and their parents. To create a sense of normalcy, it should promise a traditional graduation and some sort of senior week, regardless of when that may occur. 

Students and their families have made enormous sacrifices in order to reach this point. Whether that is leaving the country they call home to come to BU or taking on astronomical student debt, students have endured the countless hardships that come with attending this prestigious institution.

This is the crowning moment of our academic experience, and it is the fruition of our families’ dreams for us. Please do not diminish our achievements by degrading the graduation ceremony in any way. I understand that there is significant planning with permits from the city of Boston and such, but our graduation is one of the greatest achievements of our lives. We have worked so hard both inside and outside of the classroom and made numerous sacrifices in order to succeed.

This is owed to us.

Postponing one of the most notable events of our lives, even indefinitely, at least guarantees us the opportunity to be honored in some way. Not only is this our time to celebrate our achievements with our peers, professors and families, we would be able to properly say goodbye to the place we have lovingly called home for the past four years. In addition, this provides administration with time to coordinate ceremonies, attain permissions from the city of Boston and more.

Our institution’s leadership has a choice of either tarnishing the Class of 2020’s view of BU by solely hosting a virtual ceremony, or enhancing it, by keeping tradition and camaraderie alive in these unprecedented times. By allowing our class to have a postponed, in-person celebration, BU would position itself as a leader committed to its community. 

We urge BU’s administration to think of the sacrifices and hard work of parents and students to get to this moment. You can visit this petition in order to see the increasing numbers of students, parents and friends who are in agreement that our class merits a well-earned, formal commencement. 

Please give the Class of 2020 the traditional graduation and senior week that they deserve. Thank you, President Brown, and I look forward to reading your response.


Roma Patel & Members of the Class of 2020


  1. Marybeth Dooling

    The Class of 2020 deserves their graduation

  2. We urge B U’ s administration staff to consider this heartfelt request from this years graduating students

    • A Disheartened Student

      While I understand the sentiment and am also sad about potentially not getting to celebrate my hard work here, I feel like this article is pretty tone deaf. A lot of people are struggling to feed their families and pay rent, and us students are really out here complaining that we don’t get a big party from our expensive university.

      • concerned parent

        I see where you are coming from but I do believe the students deserve “a big party from our expensive university”. The issue here is how BU treats their graduating students. As a parent who spent $250k over four years, I do expect the university to celebrate your/their achievements in a personal and appropriate manner. They might not be able to set a date yet, but they should postpone but not cancel commencement. A virtual commencement is an unacceptable alternative. If it is as good as the virtual classes, it will be a BIG failure.

      • While I understand where you are coming from, no one is arguing that a commencement ceremony is more important than the real issues of this pandemic. However, people should be allowed to be disappointed without others minimizing their emotions. We should be supporting people during this time, not tearing others down. I guarantee you that people disappointed about stuff like this recognize what the significant problems are. Additionally, commencement is not just a “big party” from our “expensive university.” I don’t know about you, but commencement would have been a celebration of not just my own work, but all of the sacrifices my parents have made for me to be where I am today. (If anyone reading this is healthy and able, make sure to donate blood!)

    • Senior here crying! Thank you for writing this and voicing our opinions. NONE of us want a virtual graduation as many other universities. Either postpone graduation or give us back the money that would be spent on a graduation.

  3. We support every word of your well written editorial and urge the BU administration to allow an in person formal commencement along with family, friends, and professors as well as some type of senior week!
    Lanna and Mike Lebet

  4. Shannon P. Gallagher

    I agree with the spirit of your sentiments. Thank you for your thoughtful editorial on behalf of the class of 2020.75.

  5. *We as a community look forward to hearing your response, Mr. President.

  6. Beautifully written and my senior and her family whole heartedly agree…we need BU to stand behind their seniors and promise them a graduation to celebrate their accomplishments. Please post a link to the petition or better yet anyone in agreement write a letter to the administrators to support the Commencement of the Class of 2020.