UT-Austin seniors share graduation day stresses

Rebecca Saborio

UT senior Athulya Rajakumar said she hoped the weeks leading up to graduation would be an exciting time but instead found herself frustrated by the lack of information, which made it hard to plan how her Washington state-based family would come down for the day.

“Everything surrounding that day is just up in the air right now,” journalism senior Rajakumar said. “The University has had a year to prepare, and families have a lot of questions.”

The 2021 Universitywide Commencement Ceremony is one month away, and UT has administered no tickets. UT currently allows a graduate two guests but may allow more after a graduate headcount is completed April 30, according to an email received by all graduates.

Because of this, Rajakumar said she’s not sure how many hotel rooms to reserve. Individual college commencement ceremonies have also been giving out varying amounts of information on their graduation plans, she said.

Rajakumar said she has noticed a discrepancy in how UT’s colleges have been keeping students in the loop about graduation.

“All four of my roommates are (in the College of Natural Sciences), and I saw them receiving information about graduation before I did,” Rajakumar said.

Neuroscience senior Mudita Sharma said although the CNS ceremony details are nearly finalized, she does not know how many from her large family can attend.

“I need a lot of tickets, but I don’t know how many tickets I’m going to be getting in order for them to come and participate,” Sharma said.

Sharma said her parents plan on driving to Austin from Dallas the day of commencement, but because of COVID-19 concerns, they plan on returning that same night to avoid hotels.

“My mom is pretty immunocompromised, and even though both of them have the vaccine and both doses, she still has to take her precautions,” Sharma said.

Haley Capps, psychology and religious studies senior, said she understands the College of Liberal Arts needs time to plan a safe commencement, but she wishes her family could begin planning soon.

“As far as what’s going to happen after graduation, what restaurant we’re going to go eat at or if my parents can get off work to come, it all depends on if UT gets their stuff together within the next couple of weeks,” Capps said.

Capps said she hopes UT ‘pulls out all the stops’ during both the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies.

“If it’s long, it’s long,” Capps said. “Two graduating classes really deserve the celebration of graduating in a pandemic.”