justBRIEFS: University cancels in-person Commencement, recognizes Juneteenth, increases COVID-19 capacities
Among University updates in recent weeks, Brandeis announced the decision to host a virtual Commencement ceremony.
The University will not be hosting an in-person Commencement ceremony, President Ron Liebowitz wrote to the Brandeis community in a Feb. 23 email. Instead, the University will honor the Class of 2021 in a virtual Commencement ceremony on May 23.
Though the University “did not come to this decision lightly,” it was the most realistic option under current conditions, Liebowitz explained. Given that an in-person ceremony would put faculty and staff in danger and would not be able to accommodate students who are remote, the University decided to opt for a virtual format.
While a virtual ceremony is not likely what most students had hoped for, the University will take advantage of the next few months to plan a virtual Commencement that “we can all enjoy and remember.” The Class of 2021 can also look forward to attending a future in-person ceremony when one can be organized safely, Liebowitz wrote.
The Brandeis community can submit ideas to the University on how to make this year’s virtual ceremony the best it can be.
Juneteenth recognized as a holiday
Juneteenth, a day that honors the emancipation of African Americans from slavery, is now an administrative and academic holiday at Brandeis, according to a Feb. 25 Finance and Administration InBrief email. The holiday commemorates when Union soldiers announced the Civil War had ended and slaves were free on June 19, 1865, two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, according to the National Registry of Juneteenth Organizations and Supporters. Juneteenth “is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States,” the email said.
COVID-19 capacity limits
The University has increased capacity limits for campus laboratories and religious gatherings. These changes were announced in a Feb. 23 email to the Brandeis community from Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Carol A. Fierke, Executive Vice President for Administration and Finance Stew Uretsky and Vice President of Student Affairs Raymond Lu Ming Ou.
Density in labs has increased from 40% to 60%, and up to 29 people can be in a lab at once. Because Massachusetts has increased capacity for religious services, 25 people are now allowed at religious gatherings at once.