Class of 2022.5 to participate in Commencement

Kiara Royer

Members of the Class of 2022.5 will be allowed to join the Class of 2022’s Commencement, with stipulations, President of the College Maud S. Mandel announced to off-cycle seniors on Friday.

In her email, Mandel wrote that those graduating in December 2022 will now have the option to take part in the June ceremony by processing as a group behind the Class of 2022. The Class of 2022.5 will not receive diplomas or walk across the stage, but Mandel will invite them to stand as a group to be recognized during Commencement. This plan is a change from past announcements that stated members of the Class of 2022.5 would not take part in this summer’s commencement ceremony at all.

Mandel wrote that she had heard from many off-cycle students, as well as families and students of the Class of 2022, about their desire to walk across the stage this summer, especially in light of the large number of students who took time off from the College due to challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such requests contributed to this decision, which is a shift from what Mandel described in her email as “a long tradition of preserving the Commencement ceremony for students who have completed their academic journey.”

Emma Truman ’22.5 said she emailed Mandel multiple times asking if she would allow off-cycle seniors to walk with their original class, to which Mandel said no.

“I understand that Williams’ protocol is that students are not allowed to walk until they’ve completed their requirements, and under normal circumstances, this makes sense,” Truman said. “Given our really wacky college experience, I think the least the admin could do is break their graduation precedent for the next few years, especially because every email we’ve received has started with, ‘These are un- precedented times.’”

Allison Li ’22.5, who will be abroad in Madrid this fall since she was not able to go abroad during her junior year due to COVID, said not being able to walk across the stage with her original class this summer leaves her without closure from the College.

“I think it will be kind of strange to come back in a year to walk when I feel like, after this semester, I’m pretty much done with this place,” she said.

Both Li and Truman highlighted the fact that last year, the College held a celebration for the seniors that was not a formal graduation but still accommodated members of the Class of 2021.5. This year, the College has reverted back to its traditional Commencement.

Truman acknowledged that this recent change is the best she could hope for, given that the College has been resistant to change the Commencement policy for the last few graduating classes.

In addition to the 2022 Commencement, members of the Class of 2022.5 will also have a completion ceremony in December when they complete their degrees, and will be invited to the Commencement for the Class of 2023 next summer, where they can walk across the stage and receive their diplomas.