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College announces virtual December commencement

By Margarita Hart

With the fall semester past the halfway mark, many students can’t help but wonder what the coming months hold for SVC. On Sept. 30, a small glimpse at what’s to come was delivered to the SVC academic community in the form of an email from Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of Academic Affairs and academic dean. The email contained announcements of December commencement being moved to a virtual setting and an updated spring schedule.

Graduates at commencement in spring 2019, the second to last in-person commencement at Saint Vincent. (Source: SVC Flickr)

On Dec. 19, each individual scheduled to graduate will be recognized during the virtual ceremony. Further details, such as who the keynote speaker will be, will be announced at a later date.

Smetanka provided a deeper insight on the decision process for commencement, stating that the “critical issue” taken into consideration was the Health and Safety Plan instituted on campus.

“We looked to Federal, State and Local health agencies to inform us and the critical thing there is how many people we could have for a non-instructional event, and right now the capacity is very low, 25 persons,” he said.

Seniors scheduled to graduate in the winter appeared to reach a similar consensus: a little disappointing, but understandable given the circumstances. Though a little too early to tell, Smetanka says that the college will look “realistically” at the conditions in the Spring in order to determine May commencement plans.

Additional adjustments were made to the spring academic calendar. Plans for “face-to-face instruction, residential living and athletic competition” are mentioned in Smetanka’s email, as well as a condensed approach to the semester. The semester will be “14 consecutive weeks.”

The spring 2021 academic schedule, as posted on the SVC website. Classes begin on Jan. 25. (Source: / Julia Snyder)

This plan includes April 2 off for Good Friday, but no other breaks.

Some students are apprehensive about conducting another semester in a condensed fashion.

Seniors Alexis Ohree, a communication major, and Brianna Carter, an integrated science major, worry about the lack of breaks and how it could affect performance in classes. Carter stated that she, among others, believes that breaks are essential.

“People get burnt out, and I am one of those people who gets burnt out, and who is burnt out. And it’s not even week 8 yet?” Carter said.

A condensed semester with no major breaks can take a mental toll on students and faculty. It is something that’s hard to deal with during a time filled with immense uncertainty. But for those struggling with getting “burnt out,” Smetanka offers advice to help.

“Sometimes less is more; if you take some time out for exercise or just a walk through campus, the cemetery, to walk down to the wetlands or Winnie Palmer Reserve, that’s going to change your attitude or perspective and allow you to be better prepared for the workload ahead. Build in the breaks!”


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