Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Students take graduation portraits on Ho Plaza as a woman wearing an N95 mask walks past on March 18, 2020. This year's in-person commencement ceremony looks questionable.

February 25, 2021

As Cornell Cancels In-Person Alumni Reunion, Class of 2021 Commencement Remains Up in the Air

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Cornell announced Feb. 17 that it would move all alumni reunion events online for the second year in a row. As all events continue to be virtual, the fate of the Class of 2021’s commencement looks bleak. 

“We weighed necessary considerations about vaccine rollout, emerging COVID-19 variants, attendee travel, New York State quarantine mandates and campus capacity against our desire to welcome Reunion-year alumni back to campus,” the University wrote in a statement.

The University is in the process of conducting a similar decision for this year’s commencement. While the University has issued no statement expressing uncertainty on the Class of 2021’s commencement, Joel Malina, vice president for university relations, said it was unlikely that Cornell would permit such a large gathering. 

“In our planning, we must consider New York State regulations regarding quarantine, testing, and permissible gathering sizes,” he said in a statement to The Sun. “Given the current public health situation, it is very unlikely that we will be able to safely and legally welcome tens of thousands of family and friends to campus as we would in an ordinary year.”

Still exploring other celebration options that are in accordance with state guidelines, Malina expects the University to reach a decision in March. 

New York State currently regulations require travellers from non-contiguous states to quarantine for a minimum of three days and restrict public gatherings. Cornell urges family and friends to delay buying non-refundable tickets until they release their final plans in March.
The Feb.17 announcement confirmed that 2020 commencement celebrations would be held virtually as a part of the reunion, despite promises from President Martha Pollack that the ceremony would be in-person.