SFU hosts Fall 2020 virtual convocation for graduates

The event featured Indigenous homages and interactive changes to replicate the real-life experience

Image Courtesy of Simon Fraser University

Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer

The SFU Fall 2020 Virtual Convocation took place on October 22 and 23 for recent graduates. This is SFU’s second virtual convocation due to COVID-19, following the one that took place last June. 

In an email statement to The Peak, Director of Ceremonies and Events Gloria Chu explained the planning process and changes to the event. An established committee was in charge of the virtual convocation, with representatives from each of the services: Communications & Marketing, Student Services, IT Services, Meeting, Event, and Conference Services, and Facilities Management.

“The group looked closely at the June virtual convocation graduate survey results, met with a focus group from the Fall graduating class, consulted with faculty and departmental contacts and deans, and reached out to other Canadian universities to create the plan,” Chu said. 

The main objective of the group was to try their best to replicate the real-life experience of a convocation ceremony in the virtual format. Graduates were given a chance to sing in a national anthem montage, and a hashtag (#MySFUGrad2020) was created for students to share their celebrations. Students Danaan Cordoni-Jordan, Alicia Fahrner, Davina Anthea Gounden, Margaret Kapitany, Michael Koziura, Madeline Lauener, Sumreen Kaur Rattan, and Nuvprit (Preet) Saini also featured to give speeches.

Each faculty organized interactive grad celebrations and a “Convocation Box” which includes parchment, a cap and tassel, an SFU Alumni Pin, the print program listing all grad names, and an item from their faculty. A range of virtual celebration tools was also provided to graduates, such as print-at-home signs, Zoom virtual backgrounds, and an Instagram filter. 

The changes that were implemented for these ceremonies included individually reading out names, degrees, displaying pictures, and a short message from every graduating student during the ceremony. In the spring, the convocation consisted of about 5,000 graduate students, hence the arrangement of four virtual ceremonies to allow for the name to be called. 

Chu said that the next convocation’s planning depends on upcoming advice from health authorities. They want to “assure the 2021 grads that the Planning Committee will do [their] best to make Convocation as engaging and meaningful as [they] can for them.”