Local college asks for increased capacity for in-person commencement

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – With graduation day on the horizon, many local colleges are gearing up for in-person graduation ceremonies. However some colleges want the states guidances to go a step further.

For the class of 2021 walking across stage and getting that diploma is a reality.

“After this past year it wasn’t something I knew that was going to be a guarantee. So to have it be here and to have my mom get to see me walk across the stage is everything I could ask for,” saiid Jordan Dunn, senior at Siena College.

Students are looking forward to a new chapter in their lives; that starts May 1 with in-person graduation ceremonies. The restrictions are dependent on the sizes of the ceremonies. They include capacity restrictions and, in some cases, a need for either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Siena College is planning to have their annual commencement ceremony on May 30 at the Times Union Center. But Siena College President Chris Gibson said the capacity limit should be increased.

“Sporting events can have 25% capacity, inside the TU center, and commencements can only have 10%. I just think once Governor Cuomo finds that out, its not going too make any sense,” said Gibson.

For large-scale indoor events with over 150 people, venues can operate at 10% capacity. President Gibson tweeted at Governor Cuomo last week asking for a change in the guidelines.

He said if not they will have to hold two separate ceremonies.

“It may seem like a small thing but for our seniors they have been through so much together, and they want to commence together,” said Gibson. 

“If all the seniors can be in person together in one spot I think thats what the real goal is,” said Bobby Roemer, senior at Siena College.  

For Siena seniors Jordan Dunn and Bobby Roemer they said picking which family members get to go graduation will be hard.

“I have a huge family so it is a little disappointing. I have both grandparents who are still with me and unfortunately they are going to have to watch at home right now,” said Dunn. 

“So I’ll be having my parents but I also have two sisters at home that would sure love to come,” said Roemer.

Starting May 1, large-scale ceremonies with 500 or more people at outdoor venues will be limited to 20% capacity. Attendees of events of these sizes must show proof of either a recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.

University of Albany’s ceremony can have more in attendance because it will be held outdoors. Senior Rachel Kalter said it doesn’t matter the number, she is just happy to throw her cap in the air with her friends.

“But I’m perfectly okay with the four guests I only have myself included four family members. But at the end of the day its not a normal time and I think everyone understands that,” said Kalter.

Gibson said they are waiting to see if the guidelines from the state will change before sending out graduation tickets.

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