Yage Wang—Staff Writer
The 2021 graduates of Dordt University, who will walk across the stage of the B.J. Haan Auditorium on May 7, will be the first class to graduate with an in-person ceremony and “Dordt University” written on their diplomas. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions last year, Dordt 2020 graduates did not get the chance to participate in an in-person graduation. Instead, they watched a recorded video online with their pictures and names displayed on the screen.
Professor Bob De Smith is the academic marshal this year and will hold the mace as he leads the faculty and students in the commencement ceremony.
“It’s going to look a little bit different this year,” De Smith said. “Usually we put all the students up on the stage with two wings facing the middle, but people are really close together. This year, they are putting the graduates on the floor, the pews. And the choral will be on one side of the stage. We also decided to cut down the number of faculty members to make room for parents and friends.”
Students have the choice of either a block of four tickets in the De Witt and Rec Center, or two tickets in the BJ Haan and two in the Rec Center. Attendees not in the BJ Haan will watch the ceremony via a professional live broadcast on large screens in the secondary locations. Seating in the BJ Haan will have some—but not six feet—of space between guest groups, while the gym and rec center will abide by social distancing standards. There will also be meal vouchers for the graduates and their guests to enjoy a reception afterwards on campus.
Traveling restrictions due to the pandemic presents a dilemma for many international students’ families hoping to attend their graduation ceremony.
Though the commencement might not fit every student’s situation or satisfy families and friends, it still upholds significant meaning in each student’s life. The ceremony brings closure to their time at Dordt and is the start of a new journey.
“We technically call the graduation ‘commencement,’ which I like because that word means beginning,” De Smith said, “To graduate is like moving to the next level. I like the idea of commencement, which is like sending off, but it’s very much like a beginning.”