Coronavirus causes confusion for Georgia State graduates

Editor’s Note: This story will be updated with any new information pertaining to Georgia State’s graduation.

Coronavirus has impacted most of campus life, but graduating students were dealt a major blow with the cancellation of graduation ceremonies.

On March 17, Georgia State University President Mark Becker sent an email to graduating students telling them that all graduation ceremonies would be canceled “due to the public health emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic.”

This policy does not only apply to Georgia State, but all other institutions in the University System of Georgia as well.

“I know how meaningful and important a commencement is, and we want to celebrate your achievements in an appropriate fashion,” Becker’s letter stated.

Becker insisted that Georgia State will find another way to celebrate current graduating students in the future.

“We are committed to finding ways to honor you at a time when large gatherings are once again safe,” Becker said.

For many graduating students, including Janeeva Conant, this news was frustrating.

“I was extremely disappointed when I found out the ceremony was canceled because it took a lot for me to even complete my bachelor’s due to a lot of personal struggles I’ve experienced,” Conant said.

Conant is graduating with a degree in journalism and did not have any major plans after the commencement ceremony. This was going to be her only way of celebrating.

“All of my family and friends are so proud of me for making it to this point, and [they] were excited to celebrate with me by attending the ceremony,” she said.

Conant’s friends that are graduating are just as disappointed. She said they all share a common concern that the ceremony should have been rescheduled instead of completely canceled.

After Georgia State released a statement on Twitter about graduation, many concerns in the comments were about whether or not students would receive their graduation fees back.

According to Herff Jones, the company that provides gowns for the commencement ceremonies, “students can receive a refund for any unused regalia up until the original ceremony date.”

There is a section on the company’s website that is dedicated to returns. If students already received their gowns and took pictures in them, they cannot be refunded.

Herff Jones is encouraging students to still use their gown by taking pictures and sharing them on social media.

Some students do want to keep their gown. Sinclaire Johnson, a Georgia State student, feels like the regalia is more than just attire for the ceremony, especially since it took her seven years to graduate.

“Even though I won’t [be] walking across the stage, I wanted something to symbolize that and reminded me of my collegiate career,” she said. “My cap and gown are more than just graduation attire. It’s a representation of what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.”

For students who ordered and were supposed to pick up the products on campus, Herff Jones also has a section on the website dedicated to them as well. Those students have the option to either have the product shipped to their home or can fill out a refund request form on the website.

There have been rumors that Georgia State may combine spring and fall commencement, but some students don’t think that this is the best idea.

“If they choose to reschedule [commencement ceremonies] for the summer, I am completely on board with that,” Conant said.

However, Conant would not want to attend it in the fall.

“If they choose to push us in at the fall 2020 graduation, I won’t be attending,” she said. “It wouldn’t be fair to lump us all in like that eight months after the fact. It would be an afterthought.”