It’s been a year since COVID-19 shut down campus in the middle of my last semester at UW-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County. At that time, postponing graduation ceremonies was understandable. Chancellor Shields apologetically said, “We’ll be gathering to celebrate when it’s safe to do so.” Vaccines are now rolling out and classrooms are functioning. Businesses have reopened. Graduation ceremonies are important life events; it’s time to find a safe way to make them happen.
Last summer, I watched with envy as local high schools, both big and small, celebrated their graduates: small outside ceremonies, masks and distancing, live-streaming to family and friends. Crossing the stage. Accepting their diploma. Turning their tassel. Pomp and Circumstance! Waving to family. Cameras clicking. Standing proud. Recognized. As fanfare went on around me, I was disappointed, but patient. Here we are a year later, and again, other campuses (including UW-Madison) are finding ways to make it work, but UW-P is not. I understand it’s impractical for large numbers of people to be inside, but it seems they’re working toward a reason not to instead of looking for ways to make it possible.
It adds insult to injury that the main campus has not been communicative. Not to remind the uncelebrated graduates – Hey! We remember you! We’re working on it. Instead, it’s been radio silence. I haven’t received a communication since May, other than the few times I proactively reached out in hopes there was an update I had somehow missed. There wasn’t. Incidentally, the Alumni Association has no difficulty reaching me. I receive frequent invitations from them to join as a Proud Pioneer. Every time I hear from them, it is a stinging reminder of what I haven’t yet experienced.
I am anything but proud. I’m forgotten.
To be clear, I treasure my time at BooU as a Fighting Spirit. My instructors were genuine and engaging, the advisors were caring, and the staff were truly supportive. I adore that place, but it has been eclipsed by the way the ceremony plans and communications have been fumbled by the main campus.
Missing out on that walk across the terrace stage coupled with nearly a year of communication blackout has left a huge void in my college experience. Perception is reality, and mine is that once you walk out the door, UW-P just doesn’t care. What started as unfortunate circumstances has evolved into resentment. If the campus wants to hold graduations safely, they certainly can… but they are not and have no plans to do so. They are simply disinterested and not trying.
I call upon Student Governance to press the administration into working together to get it done. An outside ceremony is possible. My college experience, and that of my peers, is incomplete. I will not be joining the Alumni Association; I would like to be a Proud Pioneer, but I just can’t get there. Ask me again once I’ve graduated.
‘Bitter in Baraboo’
PS. I regularly checked my uwplatt email account for updates after classes ended, until it was disabled. My alternate email and physical mailing address has not changed. Hey U-Communications: if you’re writing to us, the messages aren’t being received. If I may suggest, try using the Alumni Association’s contact list. Theirs seems to work.