Oakland may offer a drive-thru graduation


Photo Courtesy of CNN

President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz discussing Oakland University’s 2020 graduation on CNN.

The winter semester has almost finished, but there is one last achievement to address — commencement. 

Because of precautions revolving around COVID-19, President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz announced on CNN on Wednesday, May 13 that Oakland University is “looking to do that [commencement] through a drive-thru experience.” 

“We’re trying to imagine how we might do that in innovative and entrepreneurial ways,” Pescovitz said. “We deferred our commencement this spring, and we’re looking at how we can do that in a novel experience.” 

Oakland’s class of 2020 may replace the traditional ‘pomp and circumstance’ walk with a drive through the campus in August. Graduates would remain in their vehicles for the celebration but still “have the opportunity to be around other students,” according to Pescovitz. 

The president invited graduates to comment on the drive-thru commencement option to help produce a final decision. 

Some graduates insist on waiting for a conventional ceremony. Jacob Adams, an Oakland University 2020 graduate, has created a petition to encourage other seniors to “demand” postponing graduation until everyone can gather. 

“This is unacceptable and downplays all of our hard work to earn a commencement we deserve,” Adams said. “We deserve [an in-person ceremony] when it is physically possible and safe to do so. We have worked hard for our degrees.” 

In two weeks, the petition received over 275 signatures on change.org.

Previously, OU has also entertained having a virtual ceremony and a ceremony spread throughout several days — complying with social distancing standards — in December 2020. Offering a drive-thru ceremony is the newest idea, but Pescovitz has yet to officially confirm this option.