Editorial—The Re-Imagining of Convocation

For those of you who are taking in the events of the re-imagined, virtual convocation, my congratulations to you!  For me, the day started off a bit frustrating as I came to realize there was no way for random spectators, such as myself, to attend the event and watch what was happening.

During past convocations, I typically put the stream up top and leave it running while I work on various aspects of The Voice Magazine.  The idea that you might have to register to see the virtual convocation, even as just a spectator, had never occurred to me.  Sure, the FAQ for convocation reads:

Do I need to register to attend virtual convocation? 

Yes. You will need to indicate whether you will participate in the virtual ceremony or not. Graduands will receive a convocation email invite by the end of June 2020. Deadline to register to participate is August 31, 2020.  

But to me that sounded like a note specifically to graduands, as the rest of the page was also devoted to them, and, again, I wasn’t looking to participate so much as to observe the proceedings as they happened. So I read that a few weeks ago and didn’t think anything further of it, assuming there’d be the standard link to view what was going on once the day arrived.

It took emailing the convocation office in my frustration to be set straight, and they graciously provided me with a link to the service that they are using to run Convocation 2020, even though I didn’t pre-register.  Having now poked through it a little bit, my idea that “re-imagined” was just marketing-speak for what was going to be little more than a streamed performance of what usually happened was way off.  This convocation truly is a re-imagined event, feeling more like a large conference than a show, the site contains multiple links, even laid out as different areas within the event.  It includes an art hall, recordings of the various graduation ceremonies, multiple invitations to join in various side rooms for networking opportunities with other students and staff, and even a  large virtual “booth” for an Amazon Web Services hiring office, as well as other sponsors and supporters (spot the AUSU booth) as you can see by the picture there. And that’s not even going into some of the live events that are being presented.

My annoyance at not being able to find the link to view the ceremonies live has been replaced by a grudging understanding.  This isn’t just a show on a stage anymore.  A single stream of the events, while it never captured the entirety of Convocation before, would absolutely fail to capture what was really important here, and what, once you’re in the site, can be seen in so many places—the graduands and graduates.  Whether it’s through the pictures in the gallery, the live interactive networking sessions, the various speeches and faculties all talking about and praising the graduates, all of it can be seen as celebrating those who’ve completed their journey through AU.   So congratulations first, to AU, who’ve found a way to really celebrate the graduates beyond a bunch of talking heads giving speeches when graduands themselves are unable to be present.

And of course, congratulations especially to all the graduates from 2019-2020.  Next year, I’ll be registering early so as to not miss any of it.  Enjoy the read!

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