Graduations Affected By Recession And Swine Flu

By Staff
May 15, 2009

The economic downturn and the spread of swine flu are causing graduations to be scaled back, altered or canceled entirely.

The Boston Globe reports that families are reacting to the recession by increasingly opting for inexpensive accommodations in order to attend college and university graduations. The College of the Holy Cross saw record demand for dorm room accommodations going for $50 a night, and some local hotels have lowered their rates and dropped their two-night minimum stay requirement. Nevertheless, many parents are simply planning to stay in their children's apartments.

Freddy Sinchi, who will be graduating from Holy Cross, kept costs down by reserving three dorm rooms for his parents, younger siblings, uncle and church pastor. He expects that those who don't fit will stay in his dorm room. Other guests will drive up for the ceremony by leaving Harlem, New York, at 5 a.m.

"This is much more economical for us," Sinchi explained.

Schools in Massachusetts have also scaled back graduations: Wheaton College ordered 400 fewer programs and decided to forgo embossing them. Clark University cut down on printing costs by e-mailing graduation invitations. Gordon College eliminated refreshments at commencement. And Brandeis decided to skip the traditional balloon drop.

Other schools have made changes to graduation as a result of the spread of swine flu. WBOC-TV in Maryland reports that Cisco Junior College in central Texas canceled this year's graduation ceremony because of fears about the virus. The school will instead mail out diplomas.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports that at Northeastern University 's graduation in Boston, bottles of hand sanitizer were distributed, and deans and students refrained from the traditional congratulatory handshake. The University of Hawaii also chose to ban handshakes.

"The best you can do is really just take all the precautions you can and remind people and help spread the information," said Renata Nyul, a spokesperson for Northeastern, who was quoted by WBOC.

Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania went so far as to plan a separate graduation for 22 students who might have been exposed to the virus during a trip to Mexico. None of the students are sick, but they have been advised to limit contact with others.

"To allow them to be exposed to 3,000 to 5,000 people would be an error on our part," explained university spokesman Karl Schwab.

Other schools whose commencements are still a month away have delayed making any decisions about graduations until more is known about the spread of swine flu.

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