An in-person Commencement for the Class of 2021 is scheduled for May 16 at Princeton Stadium, the University announced Feb. 25. The ROTC commissioning ceremony for graduating seniors will also be held in person. Public-health guidelines will be observed, according to a University statement, and plans could change depending on state mandates in response to COVID-19.
Members of the Class of 2021 are excited, class president Emma Parish ’21 told PAW. The class government and the Commencement committee “will be working to make the stadium a beautiful backdrop for Commencement,” Parish said. “We’ll also be continuing to plan exciting virtual celebrations. This year is a chance for us to be really creative about ways to honor the accomplishments of our classmates.”
Graduating seniors who live on campus will be able to attend the ceremony, along with seniors in the surrounding area who have participated in the University’s asymptomatic testing program. The same applies to graduate students on or near campus. Princeton is planning to invite seniors and graduate students who are studying remotely to participate on campus as well, in accordance with travel guidelines. The University noted that students who have violated the social contract that laid out rules and regulations for those on and near campus and were asked to leave campus will not be included.
As of early March, the status of guests at the event was still in question and was the biggest concern for students, Parish said. A maximum of two guests per student will be allowed if guests are permitted.
The Commencement ceremony will also be livestreamed. The Graduate Hooding ceremony and other end-of-year events for seniors, such as Class Day and Baccalaureate, will be held virtually.
Looking beyond Commencement, the University is planning for summer programs and the fall semester as well. In a March 11 message to faculty and staff, Provost Deborah Prentice and Executive Vice President Treby Williams ’84 wrote that summer programs normally held on campus, such as the Freshman Scholars Institute, will remain virtual in 2021, but administrators are aiming for fully in-person teaching and research in the 2021–22 academic year, as long as public-health guidance and state regulations allow for it.
“With the rate of vaccinations increasing weekly, we are optimistic that we will be able to provide an even more vibrant campus experience in the fall,” Prentice and Williams wrote.