An open letter to Paul Hennigan

We don't want a virtual commencement

Written By Hannah Walden, Co-Copy Desk Chief/Layout Editor

Dear Paul Hennigan,

I am a graduating senior that was more than excited to graduate at the end of April. 

I understand the concerns around COVID-19 and the changes to PPU life to prevent an outbreak. However, as a graduating senior, please understand my concerns and the concerns of my fellow graduating Pioneers circulating around commencement. 

I’ve attended every commencement since I started attending Point Park, since the graduating class of 2017. 

After every commencement, I have looked forward to this moment in my life more and more. Nothing makes me more proud of these past four years of hard work and determination at Point Park than walking across that stage, getting my diploma and shaking your hand to close this chapter of my life before officially entering the “real world.” 

While no handshaking will or should take place, there needs to be an official, in-person ceremony when the time is right. Anything less can only be described as a soul-crushing disappointment that my four years as a Pioneer won’t come to a head in this all-important ceremony like it was intended. 

I’m sure you already know, but so much time and hard work go into doing well during college. Large workloads from each course, semester after semester, all while juggling work and personal lives; and that hard work needs to be recognized.

I’m sure you don’t need a reminder about how much money we students and families have spent on tuition, dorms, meal plans, books and more while working towards our degrees. Our families expect to see their money in action, with us on the graduation stage where they can take photos and feel parental pride in our success before we go out and use the skills we learned in and outside of the classroom in a job setting.

In addition, please keep in mind the international students and students who left their home towns and moved across the state or even the country to dance, produce, design, write and study their butts off at Point Park that won’t have the opportunity to come back and have a real commencement like they were promised when they committed to Point Park their freshman year. 

In short; we don’t just want a virtual commencement. Nothing is a bigger slap in the face than holding a ceremony of that level of importance over Skype, Zoom or other video conference services after working so hard to get to that ceremony in the first place. 

There could be a virtual commencement for the students that won’t have the opportunity to be in Pittsburgh for an actual ceremony but don’t just stop there. Please keep your eyes and ears open for news and put together a possible timeline for when graduating seniors can plan for an in-person commencement, even if it is at the end of the Summer 2020 or Winter 2020 semesters.

We didn’t work this hard to be completely shut out because of an outbreak. We are adapting to this new way of digital learning before entering the workforce. All we ask is that there is an adaption on both sides to ensure that we get what we earned and what we paid for.