Belated Class of 2020 commencement ceremony to be held this August

The weekend of graduation festivities, from Aug. 5 to Aug. 7, will include a procession, barbecue and a keynote speaker, according to the College.

by Arizbeth Rojas | 4/1/22 5:05am

by Michael Lin / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

The belated Class of 2020 commencement ceremony will be held between Aug. 5 and Aug. 7, the College announced. These plans, which include a keynote speaker address and barbecue lunch, come after a previous commencement ceremony for the class to be held during the summer of 2021 was postponed indefinitely

According to associate director of alumni engagement Briana Stein, summer weather, housing availability and consideration for graduates’ schedules were all factors in selecting the date for the commencement ceremony. The celebratory weekend will include “traditional elements” such as regalia, processions and music, according to the College’s website. The main ceremony will  be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 6, followed by a barbecue lunch. 

The 2020 commencement planning committee consists of over 40 members of the Class of 2020, according to the commencement website. Emma Alter ’20 is a member of the ceremony sub-committee, which she said consists of five members who meet once a month. 

“When I talk to my friends about it, I think everyone is pretty stoked to have an excuse to go back to campus and to have everyone reunite, but I think it’s also a mixed bag too,” Alter said. “It is kind of late in the game: we graduated two years ago and some people have moved on from it.”

Esther Oluokun ’20 shared similar feelings about the Class of 2020’s reception of the event. While Oluokun said most of her friends plan to come back, she added that some of them “just don’t see the point of walking anymore.” 

Both Alter and Oluokun said that for some ’20s, the commencement ceremony holds sentimental value for themselves and their families.

“For a lot of people, commencement is something you want to do with your family,” Alter said. “You want to celebrate your graduation with your parents.”

Returning students will be housed in dorms during the commencement weekend. According to Stein, the Aug. 5 weekend was selected, in part, because it had the most campus housing available at the time. Even before the College made this announcement, Oluokun said that she had been “hoping” dorm housing would be provided. 

“It would be cool if they put us all in our senior year dorms to experience our last weekend at Dartmouth again,” Oluokun said. 

According to Alter, on-campus housing will only be available to students; guests will have to find hotels to stay in, which she said might already be booked. Alter also noted that the challenges with finding where to stay might deter some members of the Class of 2020 from attending the commencement weekend. 

According to Stein, commencement organizers are looking at peer institutions which have hosted similar events for their 2020 classes in order to gauge possible attendance. Registration has yet to open, according to Stein, and the keynote speaker has yet to be named. She added that the College has not yet chosen which dorms will serve as housing for returning members of the Class of 2020.

Stein also said that the committee has scheduled different events throughout the weekend to try and “emulate” the aspects that come along with a senior spring. Campus and affinity group activities are scheduled for the first two days of the event. Oluokun said she is most excited to meet up with members of The Rockapellas and the Pi Theta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Given the two years since the Class of 2020’s intended graduation date, Oluokun said there has been much time to reflect. In particular, she added that the Class of 2020 will be able to experience a commencement ceremony without the pressures of wrapping up coursework, unlike some previous classes who she said described the event as a “blur.”.

“For two years, we’ve all been thinking about what commencement could have been,” Oluokun said. “Because of that, I think we, the Class of 2020, will appreciate it even more now. It will be like a premature reunion that nobody’s ever gotten before.”