• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 13 comments on In-Person Commencement for BU Class of 2021 Planned for May 16, unless City Requires Virtual Ceremony

  1. So who will be the speaker inspiring our terriers after this challenging year? And why after all the testing can’t we manage to allow just one guest per student to sit far away in the stands with double masks so our students can feel the support they need and had to reach this special day? Surely there are ways to make this happen with a great deal of thought and preparation and funds if the state allowed.
    After surviving cancer so far, this was all we were hoping for as a family to watch my son graduate from his beloved university.
    Then as if to make this sting some more and pour salt on the wound, BU cannot manage to hand their students who paid $70,000+ to attend their actual diplomas? Instead they will be sent in the mail? What has that got to do with COVID safety? It’s pure laziness and insensitivity as if they received their education from a mail order catalog.
    Find a way to hand our terriers their actual diplomas and offer them the respect and honor they have earned, President Brown and Dean Elmore!
    There are plenty of students who would be happy to volunteer to help make this happen so please do not rob them of this joy as well.

    1. I agree with you, Ms. Kellermann. Just today, the Boston Globe announced that Baker will allow theaters and sports venues to open at half capacity in “coming weeks.” As the parent of a 2020 BU graduate (or of a 2020 graduate in general), I know firsthand the heartache these young adults have experienced over the past year, having their senior spring yanked out from underneath of them, with virtual this and virtual that. Surely by October, it will be possible to hold a ceremony that could be safely attended by others? At least, hold the possibility open. I also wonder why the wait to October? Is it to make sure the cash cow that is the BU summer program can run with competing activity?

    2. A gathering with just students is already a super spreader event and adding 1 guest per person would make it infinitely worse. Your sentiment is understandable but the safety of the everyone (including everyone in the city of Boston that would have to be in contact with city visitors, ie. hotel, restaurant staff, the general public, etc.) is far more important and this is coming from a 2020 graduate who didn’t have even the possibility of anything being in person.

      Even with testing, double masking, and any other precautions (because not everyone would be following them anyway even if they were mandatory) the best way to prevent spreading the virus is to keep numbers low/not have gatherings at all.

  2. Extremely happy for my graduating daughter. BU once again leads higher education in figuring out ways for students to have as close as “normal” college experiences during this once in a century pandemic. As I hear about many universities deciding to cancel again graduation ceremonies BU figures it out.

    My daughter is extremely excited to be able to have a ceremony with her friends and classmates. Thank you President Brown and the entire BU community.

    1. With vaccines and safety protocols this is not a Super Spreader. We need to open our country and fear-mongering is not the way. These students deserve this and if you and your student are afraid to go then you have the freedom not to. Do not ruin it for others. We still have freedoms and still live in America. And it is not selfish to want a graduation in-person. What is selfish is you telling others what not to do. Stay in your house away from people and you will continue to be safe. Cheers.

  3. Having graduated this past January in three in a half years, I would have taken part in the upcoming ceremony in May with the class of 2021 in any other year. That being said, I was genuinely saddened to see I cannot take part in this ceremony and will participate in a ceremony with the class of 2020 in October. I understand the need to limit capacity, but because I overloaded courses and worked to graduate early, I now no longer get the “traditional”, or at least as close to traditional, experience that my classmates will receive. Instead, I am now made to wait even longer to celebrate my graduation and participate in a ceremony for what I would consider the wrong class year among largely a group of strangers who began and ended their time at BU before me. I am immensely disappointed in this decision and am likewise struggling to identify how an October ceremony during friends and family weekend when the campus is the busiest it will be all year is in any way whatsoever a practical alternative to having simply held a separate ceremony in the Summer for a much more “traditional” graduation. I have absolutely no protests for precautions that are clearly taken with public safety in mind but, to me, offering a ceremony in May shows the university’s recognition that students value the “traditional” experience, and that they are confident they can safely offer it for this year’s graduates, so the decision to hold another in October is all the more callous and inconsiderate. I have looked forward to graduation since beginning at this school, and I simply cannot understand the logic behind the alternative ceremony in October and am genuinely saddened to watch my class graduate together in May while I am essentially left behind for having finished my degree a semester early.

    1. I completely agree with you. I really wanted to walk with my friend who graduated this January and have been really excited that we would be in the same graduating class since I’ve known her. It would be nice if those who graduated January of 2021 would be able to walk with the class of 2021 instead of with the class of 2020 in October.

  4. February 21, 2021: “With the first two months of class and activities complete we are still identifying a high number of students infected with COVID-19. While our natural tendency, visiting friends’ (who are outside of our household) rooms and apartments, traveling distances to vacation and go on outings, and engaging in, seemingly innocuous, close-quartered weekend coffees and dinners without wearing masks are all contributing to the spread of the virus within our communities.” (Dean Elmore)

    February 25, 2021: “Massachusetts and Boston COVID-19 rules permitting, BU will hold an in-person Commencement May 16 on Nickerson Field to celebrate the Class of 2021. State and city restrictions on gatherings will preclude graduates’ families, friends, and other guests from attending.”

    February 26, 2021: “The state has decided to prioritize mass vaccination centers, among other providers, and has halted distribution of the vaccine to all higher education institutions, including Boston University. As a result, we must suspend the University’s vaccination program for those who have not yet had their first shot.”

    TBD: BU cancels in-person commencement.

    Oh, it’s been nearly a year. How a students still not able to follow the rules!?

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