Seniors Lament Postponement of Commencement


Emma Smith

Graduates from the 2016 Spring Commencement celebrate.

Angel Vitale, a 2020 graduation candidate, was looking forward to commencement for months. The milestone ceremony would have brought family members over 2000 miles across the Pacific Ocean from American Samoa to watch her walk across the stage and finish a chapter of her life alongside her peers.

“My parents are originally from American Samoa, and they sent me to America just so their kid can have a better education,” said Vitale, a senior majoring in Historical Political Studies. “Me walking the stage would not only be my dream and accomplishment but theirs as well.”

Vitale’s reaction comes after Chaminade University of Honolulu President, Dr. Lynn Babbington, announced on March 20 via email that the 2020 commencement ceremony had been postponed until December due to Covid-19. While a date is yet to be identified, Babbington’s announcement catalyzed a range of emotions amongst seniors. 

“Postponing commencement was something we hoped to avoid,” said Babbington in in her university-wide email. “While we won’t be able to celebrate our graduates in May, we can all find comfort in the fact that we are doing our part and practicing leadership and service by putting the health and safety of our community first.”

The move comes as other universities across Hawaii — including the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Hawaii Pacific University — announced similar measures in response to the deadly Covid-19 outbreak that has ravaged communities worldwide. 

For some students, the email that Babbington sent regarding commencement was unclear and obscure. Andrew Trapsi, a 2020 graduation candidate majoring in Biochemistry, said that he was “unsure and puzzled” by the ill-defined details of Babbington’s email. Although an alternative date is yet to be determined, Trapsi jokingly floated the possibility of a virtual graduation due to the fact the president’s email failed to offer a sign of more information to come. 

“If there were to be a virtual graduation ceremony, there would be a lot to organize in terms of time differences because [a] majority of students who were due to graduate in May have left the island to be with their families already,” said Andre Arissol, a 2020 commencement candidate from England majoring in Communications.