Media cover ‘Corona-mencement’ early graduation event

The New York Times, Bangor Daily News, News Center Maine and WABI (Channel 5) covered an unofficial early commencement ceremony at the University of Maine on March 13. Dubbed “Corona-mencement” by student organizers, the event held in the Memorial Union offered a chance to recognize the class of 2020 in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain future. “If there’s one thing our class is great at, it’s making the most of a tough situation,” senior student Hailey Bryant wrote for the BDN. “No one knows yet whether our official commencement will be canceled. Ultimately, though, it’s not the ceremony that matters. It’s about celebrating our accomplishments and the community we’ve built, and by those standards, our homemade graduation was more than enough.” Senior student Sophia Palangas, the primary organizer, told WABI that it started as a Facebook event meant to gather a few friends to say goodbye, and grew from there. “To leave on a positive note when there are so many unknowns just really brings up the mental health, brings a community together,” she said. “For us to send you off so suddenly is painful for us. We know it’s painful for you,” said Robert Dana, vice president for student life and dean of students. He told the New York Times that the university would be “very student-centric in our decision-making” regarding commencement.