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FAQ

How did UTSA makes its decision about commencement?

Our commencement plans align closely with our campus operational plans for the spring 2021 semester, which call for limited in-person activity, appropriate physical distancing and the use of face masks. These plans were developed by our Public Health Taskforce according to national, state, and local health guidelines.

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Will the ceremonies be the same as previous commencements, with a stage party, ceremonial elements and speeches?

These ceremonies will retain some of the most important traditional elements but will have some differences. They will be college-based to promote health and safety; there will be remarks from the Dean and conferral of the degrees; and every graduate will have their name called as they cross the stage. Additionally, each student will have their photo taken to commemorate the event.

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Will there be a hooding ceremony for doctoral graduates?

Yes, there will be a hooding ceremony — a symbol of the culmination of a student’s graduate studies — during the doctoral ceremonies on May 14 and May 21. Details will be forthcoming.

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Many other universities are allowing limited guests at in-person commencement ceremonies. Why isn’t UTSA?

UTSA’s campus facilities does not provide enough space to bring graduates and families together safely. Because of the number of ceremonies that will need to be scheduled, 52 in total, the Alamodome is not a viable option due to its other commitments.

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You said that guests are not permitted. What about my parents?

There is not enough space to safely accommodate both graduates and their families. We will offer a livestream of the event as well as on-demand viewing so people can hold family watch parties and safely host gatherings.

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Why can’t I bring my family to my college ceremony?

There is not enough space to safely accommodate both graduates and their families. We will offer a livestream of the event as well as on-demand viewing so families can hold watch parties and safely host gatherings.

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Why can’t UTSA allow guests who have been fully vaccinated to attend the in-person ceremonies?

Space limitations are the primary reason we cannot allow guests to attend the ceremonies.

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I really want to be able to bring guests to my commencement ceremony. Can I 'walk' in a later semester when guests are allowed at commencement?

Yes. Every graduate has the option to participate in a future ceremony. Contact Commencement@utsa.edu for more information.

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What happens if guests show up to the in-person ceremonies?

Other than credentialed event staff, only graduates in regalia will be permitted into the venue.

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Will you be pre-screening graduates and staff for COVID with temperature checks, etc.?

We will not be screening participants onsite at any of the on-campus commencement events. Wearing masks and physical distancing are the protocols required for the commencement ceremonies.

Any graduate who feels sick or has COVID-19 symptoms should stay home.

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I’m a 2020 graduate who returned my regalia. Do I need to purchase it again?

To participate in in-person ceremonies, you will need your regalia (cap and gown).

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Why am I required to incur the expense of wearing regalia if the university is offering scaled-down commencement ceremonies?

Regalia is a traditional part of commencement, equally as symbolic as crossing the stage and hearing your name called and turning your tassel to symbolize your graduation. We want this event to include as many traditional elements as possible, even while we are challenged by COVID-19 restrictions.

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Will facemasks be offered with regalia?

Graduates should bring their own facemasks.

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When is the last day to tell you if I am coming to in-person commencement?

May 2021 graduates should have already responded with their intent to participate in ceremonies. Contact GraduationCoordination@utsa.edu if you need to update your status.

Graduates from the Class of 2020 graduates are asked to complete their RSVP as soon as possible and no later than 48 hours before the ceremony they plan to attend. This will allow us to plan for all participants.

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I’m a double major in two separate colleges. Will I be able to attend the ceremonies for both of my colleges?

Yes. Just as honors students may participate in both their academic college and the Honors College ceremonies, you may participate twice, as long as the ceremonies are not scheduled at the same time.

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If I participate in an in-person ceremony, can I still submit a photo and message for the virtual commencement?

Yes. All Class of 2021 graduates can participate in both the in-person ceremony and list their information in the virtual commencement. Class of 2020 graduates were included in the virtual commencement in May and December 2020.

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I earned my degree in psychology. Which college ceremony should I participate in?

All 2020 graduates will participate in ceremonies of their academic college at the time of degree completion, with the exception of the College of Public Policy which will participate in HCAP ceremonies.

May 2021 and December 2020 graduates in psychology will participate in HCAP ceremonies. May 2020 graduates in psychology will participate in COLFA ceremonies.

Contact GraduationCoordination@utsa.edu if you need more information.

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Will you be taking professional photos in other cities like you did last semester?

Our professional photographers will be taking official photos at each ceremony. Because of the number of ceremonies scheduled, photos in other cities will not be offered.

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Will there be a way that I can take a photo with my family, since guests are not allowed at the Commencement ceremonies?

There will be a Commencement-themed stage set up in the H-E-B Student Union Ski Lodge from April 4 to May 14 for photos. The area will be accessible during Student Union business hours, including evenings and weekends. Graduates and their guests are reminded to maintain social distancing from other families.

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How will I get the video link for my ceremony?

Access to the livestream and the recorded ceremonies will be available on the commencement website: utsa.edu/commencement.

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If you’re concerned about having Commencement inside, why can’t we hold it outside?

San Antonio weather in May is unpredictable. It could be hot, or rainy, or windy. We don’t want to take the risk of having to cancel the events because of weather. The indoor environment is climate-controlled.

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Why can we have fans at football games, but we can’t have our family at commencement?

Athletic teams and their coaching staffs are operating under strict NCAA guidelines regarding social distancing, required COVID testing, contact with others and public attendance. That is not possible for the thousands of students and their guests, faculty and staff who participate in UTSA Commencement ceremonies.

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Isn’t the state of Texas open now? Why can’t we just have normal ceremonies?

While the state-imposed COVID restrictions are lifted, UTSA and other higher education institutions have established safety protocols to protect their large campus communities.

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Did UTSA get student input to help plan these in-person ceremonies?

Because of the uncertain nature of having to plan during a pandemic, UTSA relied on its Public Health Task Force, comprised of researchers and health care experts to develop a plan for this year.

During normal times, we regularly assess our commencement ceremonies through student surveys and this ongoing assessment directly informs our event planning.

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Who can I contact to share feedback about Commencement?

For any questions or comments regarding Commencement, please contact Commencement@utsa.edu.

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Who participates in the doctoral ceremony?

The doctoral ceremony is for those students receiving a doctorate in their individual discipline. Only students who will receive their doctorate will participate in the doctoral ceremony. Master’s degree students will participate with their individual colleges.

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