UVU 2022 convocation in drive-thru format

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Editor Note: An updated article was published with more details on the graduation events.

Utah Valley University’s 2022 convocation ceremonies will be held on May 6 in a drive-thru format, which is similar to the way the ceremonies have been conducted since COVID-19 regulations were set into place in 2020.

The drive-thru graduation ceremony in 2020 was created to accommodate social distancing guidelines. The ceremony was set up the same way in 2021, as strict COVID-19 guidelines were still in place.

This year, a traditional commencement ceremony will be held in person at 6:00 p.m. in the UCCU Event Center. Before the ceremony, graduates will gather together on the quad in front of the Fulton Library, and will then be led by a bagpipe and drum band into the event center. Once the graduates enter the event center, the UVU Wind Symphony will play “Pomp and Circumstance,” while the graduates proceed into the arena in front of their friends and family, according to Stephanie Albach, Executive Assistant of University relations.

During the ceremony, Mary C. Daly, president and CEO of Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, will give the keynote speech, and president Tuminez will address the crowd, according to the UVU graduation website. At the end of the commencement ceremonies, Provost Wayne Vaught will invite graduates to stand in a group and congratulate them as they move their tassels from the right to the left side of their caps.

Convocation will start in the morning on May 6. Students participating in the ceremony will drive in a line to the stage in a car with their family and friends, and will then exit the car before crossing the stage. Once graduates approach the stage, they will be greeted by the dean and faculty members, and will receive their diploma cover (diplomas are mailed to graduates 4-6 weeks after the ceremony). After leaving the stage, students will return to their cars and are welcome to park and take photos at several locations across campus that will be set up with photo op backgrounds, according to Albach.

“We planned the drive-through protocol with the best intentions based on positive feedback from last year’s graduates,” said Albach, considering the University’s reasoning for this year’s commencement format. “We initiated the drive-through convocations during COVID, it was not the motivating factor in continuing with this format.”

Some students have stated they don’t like the drive-through format and are confused as to why it is continuing into this year’s ceremony. Ryan Parry will be graduating in May with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. He received his bachelor’s degree from UVU in 2020, and shared that only his parents were able to celebrate that with him, which he said was “devastating at the time but it was understandable.”

“COVID isn’t really an excuse anymore,” Parry said. He is the first in his family to receive any type of college degree, so this ceremony is very important to Parry and his family. “I can’t pack all my friends and family into a single car. It’s dumb and it seems unnecessary to do it again,” said Parry.

Chelsea Edgar, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene, stated that she and her peers in the program were upset to find out that the convocation would be in a drive-thru format.

“After giving over 30 grand to the school and getting straight A’s, I don’t feel like a drive-thru is good enough for what I’ve accomplished,” Edgar said. “I don’t feel like it’s wrong for us to want a traditional convocation,” she continued, referring to other students in her program. “We paid for this degree, we feel like we should be celebrated.”

Edgar said that she and several other students had emailed UVU about their concerns, and received responses stating that this is what students in the past had preferred. “They told us that people in the past had preferred this, but people in the past didn’t really have a choice,” Edgar said, in reference to past ceremonies subject to COVID-19 restrictions. She mentioned that she, her peers, and faculty in the dental hygiene program had eventually stopped receiving responses from UVU on the subject.

Many of the students are from out of state, and will have families traveling long distances to be at the ceremony. “Why would I have my parents drive nine hours just to sit in a car?” Edgar added. “My family and I could dress up and drive down the street any other time, why would we want to do that for graduation?”

Out of the 40 students graduating from the dental hygiene program this year, Edgar says that only a handful of them have decided to participate in the drive-thru, not including herself. “I graduated with my bachelors in three years, I put a lot of work into it. I’m very proud to graduate from UVU because it’s a very accredited dental hygiene program,” she said. “I don’t want to drive in a car after putting in all of this work.”