BCIT Class of 2020 left wondering what upcoming virtual graduation will look like in COVID-19 era

Caden Fanshaw/ May 6, 2020

BCIT has confirmed there will be an in-person ceremony, but says it won’t likely be until February 2021.

(Flickr / BCIT)

BCIT Grad

As the year comes to a close for post-secondary students across BC, many who would normally cross the stage in traditional graduation ceremonies will have the ability to particpate in a virtual replacement while they patiently await a safe date for an in-person ceremony.

However, many have been left wondering what the virtual replacement will look like?

Many wondering when the virtual ceremony will even be held.

BCIT has shared few details about what the virtual convocation could look, or sound like, or even when it might be. Those questions are causing uncertainty is feeding a growing frustration over social media from the student body who are expected to graduate this spring.

When contacted for a statement the school said all of the details they could share are available through a newly constructed section of the institute’s website found here.

The virtual rendition was announced back on April 9th, and as of May 6th did not have a date specified for when the ceremony may be held.

According to the school website, the ceremony is “to be held on a date in mid-June.” Although, it is still unclear which day that will be.

What we know:

When a virtual grad decision was made back in April, many students shared their appreciation for the institute’s response given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19.

Many students say they are still grateful for a postponed in-person ceremony which the school hopes can take place in February 2021.

“I believe that it’s definitely the right call given the circumstances. The common sentiment that I’ve heard from students is that they are disappointed that it couldn’t be done in person this June, but that it is ultimately the right decision.“

Hunter Sones, incoming President of the BCIT Student Association

Sones says he understands the frustration from students but says the school’s decision is the best for the safety of all the graduating students and their families.

“We are committed to ensuring you enjoy the opportunity when you can, and to do it safely,” said BCIT President Kathy Kinloch in a recorded address sent to students. Kinloch went onto say students “deserve that experience.”

Kinloch did hint that different branches of the institution could have different types of virtual graduations, as traditional graduation at BCIT is normally separated depending on the specific program in which the student is enrolled.

Postponed not the case for all post-secondaries across BC

BCIT announced its decision to postpone the in-person ceremony instead of cancelling it altogether on April 9th. The decision came following other major BC universities like UBC, SFU, and UVic.

A postponed ceremony was not the case for all post-secondaries across the province though as several ceremonies were cancelled outright, limiting students to a virtual-only experience.

In Prince George, the University of Northern BC faced heavy backlash from its students when it announced that an in-person ceremony would be cancelled altogether with no later date possible.

An email sent to UNBC students obtained by BCIT News blamed “logistical reasons” for not being able to postpone the ceremony. 

But less than 24 hours after the decision was announced, the university reversed their decision following an online petition which garnered over 1300 signatures.

What we don’t know:

When BCIT was asked for more details, they said all the information they could share was already available on the school’s website.

BCIT says the school will host an online celebration in June, with no more information available online. The school responded by saying they will provide updates to students as details become available.

No date has been indicated yet as to when the virtual graduation will take place despite June being the next calendar month.

BCIT’s website does confirm that students will still receive their credentials regardless of physical ceremonies being postponed to February 2021.

As for when students will receive them, the website states that “credentials will be mailed when safe to do so” which goes onto say “at this time, we are estimating delivery in July.”

BCIT had over 17,000 full-time students in 2017-18, last year it awarded over 6,500 credentials to graduating students.

(Caden Fanshaw / BCIT News)

The school did not answer questions about who would be involved in the ceremony, or how long the procession might be only confirming it would be a video ceremony.

Graduating students have also expressed interest over social media on the popular student-run BCIT Confessions Facebook page, about whether caps and gowns would be distributed so students could wear them while watching the virtual ceremony.

One student was candid in an anonymous comment made on a BCIT Confessions post mid-April, calling on the school for their inaction.

“I swear it’s like the faculty at BCIT see a fire and think, I need to throw liquid on that, and then proceed to throw gasoline on it”

The school would not comment on what their plan is for graduating apparel.

Follow this link for the latest information from BCIT on virtual graduation.