Earlham students hold snap graduation

By The Associated Press

RICHMOND — Earlham College seniors held their own snap graduation event, shortly before the school's ban on face-to-face classes and campus gatherings to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The hour-long commencement Friday at the private college may have lacked the usual festivities of graduation day. But it still had caps and gowns, poetry, music, student stories, faculty reflections — and premature degrees.

“Seniors took lemons and made lemonade by deciding to hold a graduation ceremony for themselves,” Earlham President Anne Houtman said.

Seniors organized the ceremony after Houtman canceled all face-to-face classes and events, including sports, starting Friday. Indiana colleges have extended spring breaks, canceled classroom instruction and taken other steps in the coronavirus crisis.

Vi Tran, a global management major from Oak Park, Illinois, who helped arrange the impromptu commencement, said Houtman's announcement produced a “whole level of somberness" on the Richmond campus.

Tran said fast action was needed “because the likelihood that all of us would be back for graduation was really low."

Houtman said the steps she announced to combat the virus were “very painful, yet nothing for me compared to what it meant or our seniors" as well as other Earlham students. Earlham is near the Indiana-Ohio state line, about 65 miles (104 kilometers) east of Indianapolis.

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