TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Hours after Florida State University announced the fall commencement ceremony would be held virtually two students started a petition for a socially distanced in-person ceremony.
The decision by FSU comes after the State University System of Florida directed public colleges and universities across the state to develop alternative commencement plans in light of CDC recommendations limiting large gatherings.
This semester, FSU will award degrees to 2,839 graduates: 2,008 bachelor’s degrees, 627 master’s and specialist degrees, 144 doctorates, 12 Juris doctor degrees, 45 Juris master’s degrees, and 3 LLMs.
The students who started the petition, Avery Centrella and Miles Feacher, argue with fewer than 3,000 graduates, there is ample room for the ceremony to go on in-person within coronavirus safety guidelines.
"All 2020 football season, FSU has been hosting limited-capacity games. Less than 3,000 students will be graduating from Florida State University in December 2020. Doak Campbell Stadium can hold 79,560 occupants. This is more than enough space to safely host a commencement ceremony for our graduates.
The protocols used on game days in Doak Campbell Stadium can also be applied to an outdoor commencement ceremony. For example, mask mandates, spaced seating, and consequences for safety violations.
To have football games and protocols in place to accommodate such crowds, it is the responsibility of Florida State University to host an in-person commencement. While we understand we may not be able to shake hands or invite the same number of guests as in previous years, FSU students and parents can appreciate the significant moment of graduation that we've worked tirelessly for."
FSU eased restrictions Wednesday on student gatherings, now allowing student events with up to 50 people, whether inside or outside.
The vice president for Student Affairs, Dr. Amy Hecht said FSU's COVID-19 positivity rate has continued to decrease and many students are following the guidelines including masks and social distancing.
However, pictures and videos of crowded events with university students present continue to circulate social media.
As of Friday evening, more than 2,440 people have signed the petition.