PSU Virtual Commencement: Viking Voices

We asked the Portland State community to give us their opinion about a virtual commencement ceremony in 2020. Here’s what they had to say. 


After learning that PSU had decided to hold a virtual commencement ceremony for the class of 2020, I was so upset. As a PSU 2020 graduate, I was looking forward to this commencement after four years of hard work. The purpose of a commencement ceremony is to be a symbolic step in our careers and lives, and I feel this would not be accomplished through a virtual ceremony. This pandemic has taken away a lot of things and a lot of opportunities for everyone, though our commencement does not have to be one of them. I understand the seriousness of the pandemic and completely agree with the decision to not hold an in-person ceremony this June. Despite this, I feel that there has to be a better solution to this issue such as postponing the ceremony to the Fall so we can properly celebrate our accomplishments. 

  • Emily Pappas / PSU Senior 


I enrolled in PSU the Fall immediately following the murder of Jason Washington. My first two terms here I walked through almost daily protests and demonstrations by students hoping to disarm the security guards on campus. 

Despite initial closed door conversations, I still had the obviously wrong and naive belief that the board and leadership at PSU worked with the interest of the students—some of which pay nearly $40,000 a year in total cost of attendance. Shortly thereafter it became clear that the university does not in fact make decisions based on the opinions of the students. This has been highlighted and reiterated by the recent decision to hold a virtual commencement ceremony. It’s clear that students were not involved in the decision, and despite the overwhelming feedback from students, the school continues copying and pasting the same sentiment, failing to respond to the individual feedback they’ve received. 

The Class of 2020 has made it clear that we do not want a virtual ceremony, that we’d be content with even waiting a year and walking with the Class of 2021. Should PSU choose to continue with a virtual ceremony and no option for a later ceremony, they will not only be cementing their reputation of operating against the wishes of their tuition paying students, but will also be losing the future financial and verbal support from an entire graduating class of alumni, as well as any future and past alum who are in agreement.

This is an opportunity for the Board of Directors, PSU leadership and Interim President Percy to redefine the reputation of the university, and right a ship that has been derailed by continuous missteps. 

The university exists because students continuously choose to enroll, hoping to find the PSU that promotes innovation and being built on the individuality of its students, something that can be greatly impacted should the current reputation go without address. 

  • Natalie Smith / PSU Senior 


Have something you would like to say about PSU’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic? We would love to hear from you! Please send us your thoughts and opinions at [email protected]. Selected submissions will be published alongside our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemics impact on PSU.