Seton Hall’s graduating Class of 2021 will get a change of scenery this year when they walk across the stage to receive their diplomas at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey this May, University Provost Katia Passerini announced on Tuesday.
Citing relaxed coronavirus restrictions in the state, the University said in an email to seniors that it would stage three ceremonies at the home of the New York Jets and Giants to meet capacity and social distancing mandates. Two of the commencements will be held on May 20 at 9:00 a.m. and at 1:15 p.m., and one on May 25 at 10:30 a.m.
Each graduate will be able to invite up to four guests who will all sit in the same pod at the stadium. The ceremony will also be recorded and livestreamed for guests who are unable to attend.
Graduates will not be able to pick the ceremony they will attend, according to the email, which said that the University will assign members of the Class of 2021 to one of the three ceremonies and notify them of their placement by Mid-April.
Seton Hall did not say how many graduates each ceremony will be able to accommodate.
Last week, the University announced that last year's seniors who were stripped of an in-person ceremony by the pandemic would finally be able to gather together at three ceremonies to be held at the Prudential Center -- the traditional venue for graduation -- in late April and early May.
The graduation plans come with an important caveat, though, with Passerini reminding students that the celebration remains contingent on state coronavirus guidelines and restrictions.
Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in New Jersey have both continued to steadily climb in the last two weeks, recording a weekly average of more than 4,400 cases per day as of Tuesday.
Still, members of this year’s graduating class expressed excitement at the prospect of graduating in person after last year’s graduates had their commencement preempted until this April by the pandemic.
“It’s exciting that the school was able to announce an in-person Class of 2021 graduation,” Rebecca Rutherford, a graduate student who completed her undergraduate degree in December, said. Rutherford added, though, that she was dismayed by the University’s decision to assign students to a ceremony rather than allowing them to make that choice for themselves.
“I think students would appreciate if they had the ability to pick what time and day for their ceremony,” she said.
Nicholas Kerr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @nickdotkerr.