Spring convocation will be virtual this year

    St. Thomas University announced in an email to graduating students that spring convocation will take place virtually. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    St. Thomas University announced shortly after noon today that the spring convocation will be virtual.

    Jeffrey Carleton, vice-president communications at STU, said while things with COVID-19 are improving and vaccines have begun roll-out, it was safer to do a virtual convocation.

    “We also thought it wasn’t fair to ask graduates to come back to Fredericton where their families also couldn’t take part in the ceremony,” said Carleton. “Those kinds of factors were what drove our decision.”

    He said the convocation will operate similarly to how the bachelor of social work convocation did in January.

    It will be broadcasted on STU’s Youtube channel from the Kinsella Auditorium. The remarks from the president, the honorary degree recipient and the valedictorian will be broadcasted from the Kinsella. The faculty awards, student awards and conferral of degree will follow.

    “We were able to get the grad photo or a formal photo of every graduate [for the bachelor of social work convocation],” said Carleton. “We intend to read the names of the graduates and show the photo at the same time to the viewers.”

    Sarah Kohut, president of STU’s Students’ Union, said the announcement is a little disappointing as a graduate, but she understands the decision.

    “I understand that because of the year that we’ve been living in, it’s not feasible to do [convocation] in-person,” said Kohut. “Obviously, the health and safety of students, the faculty, staff and professors comes first.”

    She said she didn’t have any expectations about whether convocation would be virtual or in-person, but she knew that both were a possibility.

    Kohut attended the bachelor of social work convocation and said it was put together nicely and there’s an opportunity to make convocation work well in a virtual format.

    Carleton said after the event finishes, copies of the program and students’ diplomas will be mailed to them, along with some surprises.

    Kohut said she hopes there will be something else to bring the graduating class together, possibly outside of convocation.

    “Hopefully, maybe there will be some other events or something that will bring the graduating class together in a more live format, like a Zoom call or something like that,” said Kohut.