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No Guests Allowed at Class of 2021 Commencement, David Brooks To Speak

Boston College will not allow guests at its in-person Commencement for the Class of 2021, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., announced on Tuesday. 

“Because of COVID-19 health and capacity regulations, attendance, unfortunately, will be limited to graduates, trustees, senior administrators, honorary degree recipients, and faculty marshals,” Leahy wrote in an email to the BC community. 

Commencement will be live-streamed for the families of graduates, and Leahy directed graduates and parents to the Commencement website for more information about Senior Week, school-specific degree ceremonies, and the move-out process.   

Leahy cited health and capacity regulations from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which limit stadiums that hold 5,000 or more people to 12 percent capacity. Alumni Stadium, where Commencement is held, can hold 44,500 people, which would limit BC to 5,340 people at graduation under these guidelines. The Class of 2021 has 2,412 students, according to a University release in 2017.

The decision follows a cancellation of the previously-rescheduled Commencement for the Class of 2020 in September of last year, when Massachusetts banned all outdoor gatherings of large groups of people.

Some other colleges and universities opted for virtual commencement ceremonies last spring. BC students petitioned the University in March to hold an in-person ceremony, saying that they would not settle for an online commencement. 

“We have worked too hard for the past 4 years to have commencement taken away from us,” the petition reads.

Two other Boston universities—Suffolk University and Northeastern University—will be holding outdoor commencement ceremonies at Fenway Park. Guests will be limited for both ceremonies, with Northeastern and Suffolk allowing one and three guests, respectively.

New York Times columnist David Brooks will be this year’s Commencement speaker, Leahy announced. Brooks is also a commentator for PBS, NPR, and NBC, and a best-selling author. 

Leahy praised the response of the BC community to the challenges of the past year.

“The past year has certainly had its challenges, but our community has responded with great generosity and commitment,” Leahy wrote. “BC’s 144th Commencement is cause to recognize the accomplishments of our graduates and to thank them for their many contributions during their time at ‘the Heights.’”

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Archives

April 13, 2021