Graduates question DePaul’s safety seriousness following updated graduation protocols


DePaul University

Commencement 2022 will be the first in-person ceremony in the past two years.

This year, DePaul will host its first in-person graduation since June 2019.

But, with the pandemic still lingering, many upcoming DePaul graduates are questioning the safety of the ceremonies given the updated health protocols. 

For the graduation ceremonies on June 11 and June 12, the graduates and guests will not be required to wear masks. The guests do not have to show proof of vaccination and they also do not have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test. Each graduate is allowed to bring up to six guests to their ceremony. Additionally, graduates who are not vaccinated will be allowed to walk at their ceremony, but they must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test when checking into their ceremony. The test must be done within 72 hours of the graduate’s ceremony.

Even though she is excited for the opportunity to graduate in person, senior Emma Markuson said she is conflicted about having in-person ceremonies due to the lack of safety protocols.

“I’m glad that we’ll have something to actually do to celebrate graduating instead of just watching a Zoom meeting, but at the same time we are still in the midst of a pandemic,” Markuson said. “Having such a large gathering of people, many of whom will likely be coming in from out of town [or] out of state still doesn’t feel like a great idea.” 

With the mandates being lifted, many graduates like second-year graduate student Sloane Szuber see this as a potential moment for the world to return to normal. 

Szuber said she appreciates the mask-optional setting. She is also happy to be able to bring her family members along to her graduation ceremony. 

But, other students, like Markuson, said the masking policy makes them feel uneasy about their safety.

“If masks were required, I would feel much more comfortable, but with masks being optional, it feels like DePaul isn’t really taking our safety or our guests’ safety seriously,” Markuson said. “Obviously there are some people who can’t get vaccinated, and sure, some people have chosen to [not] be vaccinated, and those people still deserve to participate in this important moment, but I think that allowing them not to wear masks is dangerous.”

Senior Riley Reed said she is also conflicted. She said she understands not needing to wear masks on campus or in classes anymore because the virus can be controlled more effectively. But she said she is worried because of how many people there will be in such a tight arena.

“I won’t shame anyone for not wearing a mask, but for a packed venue, it makes me wary,” Reed said. “But now we have to start coping with Covid as an endemic rather than as a pandemic, like we did for the flu.”

In regards to the number of guests allowed to attend, students like Szuber are discontent with the limit on the number of guests per graduate.

“I have five family members and then grandparents [and] extended family who want to come as well, and because of the limit, I’m not sure who is going to be able to come,” Szuber said. “I understand the limit because of capacity, but I don’t like it.”

Reed said the number of tickets was enough for her family. She is even able to bring a couple of close friends to her ceremony. But she said she understands it is more difficult to put a limit on the number of guests for people with bigger families.

“With the ceremony being held in Wintrust, you kind of have to pick and choose who you want to come,” Reed said. “You want to bring the people who are the most important to you.”

In the same light, Markuson said the number of tickets was perfect for her family. 

“Allowing everyone six guests feels reasonable to me,” Markuson said. “My family is excited to attend the ceremony, especially after not being able to attend my older sibling’s graduation ceremony in 2020, so they’re excited that six of them will be able to come.” 

In order to participate in the graduation ceremonies this June, graduates must RSVP for their graduation ceremony by April 27. For more information on graduation ceremonies and how to reserve tickets for guests, students can look under the “Academic Progress” page on Campus Connect.