U of L exploring the idea of an outdoor commencement for May 2021 Friday, Feb 26 2021 

By Madelin Shelton —

The University of Louisville is exploring the possibility of holding an outdoor, in-person commencement ceremonies May 7 through May 9 at Cardinal Stadium.

May 2021 graduates and 2020 graduates would be invited to attend, as the 2020 commencement ceremonies were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael Mardis, U of L dean of students and vice provost for student affairs, detailed the university’s desire to consider this option.

“We wanted to have commencement all along. We’ve done surveying and talked with a lot of different students and gotten feedback through SGA representation,” Mardis said. “Having it outdoors would be safer than having it indoors and it would be a bigger venue. Safety is our number one concern, but we have this strong desire to have an in-person ceremony because we know that that’s what students want.”

Stephanie Reibert, U of L’s commencement coordinator, discussed how the university plans to abide by COVID-19 guidelines for such an event.

“We are going to follow all university, state and CDC guidelines for precautions. So, there will be physical distancing at all times amongst the graduates and the guests,” she said. “Although it’s an outdoor event masks are going to be required at all times.”

There will also be hand sanitizing stations, sanitation of the podium, and ongoing discussions of how to handle the entry of people into the stadium so that there will be fewer touch points. Further, Mardis mentioned the likelihood that tickets for the event will be electronic to reduce interactions among staff and guests.

He also stated the importance of staying responsive and flexible with the changing nature of the pandemic. The university plans to make adjustments to commencement plans as the situation changes.

For graduates, the number of guests they can bring with them will likely be restricted. The university has limited capacity on the number of people that can be present at Cardinal Stadium.

“Our goal is to allow a safe number of guests to celebrate each graduate, but that number is still to be determined based on the state of the virus and the guidelines at that time,” Reibert said. “The number of guests allowed per each graduate will also depend on how many graduates will be participating in the ceremonies, which the university is gathering numbers on now.”

The university will come to a final decision about whether to host the outdoor ceremonies, and specific details, sometime in March.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Freedom of speech should not come before student safety Monday, Feb 10 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

On Jan. 28, a student distributed anti-LGBT information to an Intro to LGBT Studies class and returned to stalk the class again Jan. 30. After the professor and students all around campus expressed their concerns about the event, the university seemingly dismissed it as a threat.

Ricky Jones, the chairman of the University of Louisville Pan-African Studies program, expressed his concerns regarding the university’s actions on the issue in a tweet Feb. 3.

Jones explained that the U of L council believed there was not much to be done regarding the issue and they do not understand why the students felt threatened in the first place.

When hearing this, one can assume that the university believes this student was just exercising his freedom of speech, therefore this is no issue.

But that is a harmful perspective which sets a dangerous example for their students and everyone around the country.

As a result of the response from U of L, they are telling students that their safety is less important than freedom of speech. They are saying that it is okay to spread hate speech and propaganda as long as they don’t disrupt the operations of the university.

This is fundamentally wrong on many different levels. As a public institution that boasts acceptance of all groups of people, U of L should be embarrassed with how they handled this situation.

Kaila Story, the professor of the course which was attacked, shared her disgust with how the university has treated this issue.

“I am beyond disturbed by the way this incident has been treated by the Dean of Students office. In these terrifying times of school shootings and public displays of violence, I would like to think that a university office would be just as alarmed as me and my students were regarding this issue. Unfortunately, this is not the case,” Story said.

While the university officials are understandably busy and have many issues to deal with every day, this issue should be at the top of their list. Nothing is more important that their students’ safety, yet they are acting as if the feelings of their students comes second to allowing hateful people to spread their opinions.

This issue will not be going away anytime soon, with students across campus protesting against the actions of the university.

“The Dean of students office needs to know that their dismissive attitudes regarding this issue won’t be tolerated by me or my students,” Story said. “Something must be done.”

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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