The Legal Beat
While COVID Surges, Law School Says, ‘Aw, Screw It, Let’s Hold Graduation!’
Posted on Monday November 30, 2020
Graduation ceremonies are a key rite of passage. Law schools invite you in as a student and, after a ritualistic walk in flowing robes across a stage in front of your friends and family, they send you off as the potential donors you’ve become. After that there’s cake.
Like a lot of things, COVID-19 disrupted graduation plans. Most schools recognized the risk of bringing grandma to a superspreader event and either canceled or postponed the festivities until the pandemic subsided. But with the end in sight — but by no means here — and cases surging around the country, law schools are deciding to just go ahead and haul everyone in.
For example, the University of Georgia, who put off the graduation until December back when December seemed as though this would all be over. It’s not over, but Georgia will not be deterred:
Why? No, seriously, why does this need to happen? Those SNHU grads in the commercials get their degrees in the f**king mail and they seem pretty stoked about it. It’s almost as if the sense of accomplishment can be genuine even without a stupid robe.
Somehow the decision to push ahead with this nonsense makes total sense from an institution that engaged in world-class buck passing through the whole Spring semester. Of course this is the school that can’t make up its mind to just cancel graduation.
The school is permitting graduates up to 8 guests and while masks and “seating pods” are admirable precautions, it’s kind of like putting Evel Knievel in a helmet — sure it’s great but you could also just NOT try to jump the canyon. And it’s not just seating — bringing a couple hundred graduates and faculty together with 8 guests each creates needless crowding getting in and out of the event or milling around chatting while it inevitably runs late. These are all steps that, frankly, could have been taken back in March and could have probably allowed us to carry on otherwise normally. But the cat is out of that bag and the viral load is coming from every direction now. These precautions aren’t nearly as sure-fire as they might have been before.
Also, you’re going to hold an indoor event after that disaster of a Thanksgiving we just had in this country? Is this an elaborate issue-spotter?
Not to single out Georgia here. Doubtless there are other schools planning to go ahead with delayed in-person graduations. The message to all of these institutions is: you don’t need to do this. Some people will grumble. More will be fine about it. The country is within sight of the home stretch with this thing. A graduation ceremony is not more important than maintaining focus on that right now.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.