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In 40 Hours Time, Olin Students Plan, Hold "Faux-mencement" Ceremony

Olin College student graduates walk to stage during "fauxmencement"

Olin seniors proceed in during Thursday's "faux-mencement" ceremony on the Oval. Photo by Leise Jones

Olin College held a “fauxmencement” for the Class of 2020 on Thursday, March 12, a truly Olin-y response to the College’s decision to move classes online in light of the spread of COVID-19. The afternoon was marked by a mixture of seniors’ sadness at the need to leave their friends but also a distinctly Olin sense of humor and a sense of making the best of an unusual situation. And lots of elbow bumps and hand sanitizer. 

Dressed in a lively mixture of regalia—a mixture of genuine cloth robes and some crafted from black trash bags, origami mortarboards and colorful yarn tassels—the future Olin graduates processed to the oval through a throng of cheering and bubble-blowing students, faculty and staff.

The "faux-grads" cheer during their class photograph

The Olin Conductorless Orchestra played a medley to accompany the processional of faux graduates and mark a moment of silence for the families who could not be on campus to celebrate.

“We are gathered here to seize this opportunity to celebrate our seniors who are about to graduate,” said Olin President Rick Miller. “In the past four years we have built many things together—but most important among these are the relationships and deep friendships that have shaped our lives, and our institution.”

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Adva Waranyuwat, assistant dean of student affairs, delivered the “fauxmencement” address. “This situation, the coronavirus, will not eclipse your four years at Olin,” she told the seniors. “I am struck by the way you have shared your stories and how you’ve opened your hearts and minds to each other.” Be kind, be humble and don’t ever stop being a student, she advised.

Adva Waranyuwat speaks to the seniors during "faux-mencement"

Eight seniors, nominated by their peers, addressed their class with messages of friendship, humor and hopes for the remainder of the semester. The students are Gretchen Rice, Diego Alvarez, Aurora Bunton, Gracey Wilson, Anupama Krishnan, Antonio Perez, Tobias Shapinsky and Alex Li.

Alisha Sarang-Sieminski and Emily Roper-Doten read each senior’s 13 words as they walked across the stage to receive their “fauxplomas.”

“The events here today—the result of impromptu initiative of students, immediately embraced and endorsed by faculty and staff, and even by the Board of Trustees—illustrates clearly the compassion, creativity, spontaneity, and collaborative spirit of the Olin community,” said President Miller.

Interim Provost and Dean of Faculty Mark Somerville closed the “fauxmencement” with one of his time-honored rhymes:

Now Fauxmencement’s at an end

And we’re going all on-line

Olin’s gonna miss you all…

‘Cuz you’re awesome, not just fine

The last 3.75 years with you

Have been nothing but fun

But you still have seven weeks of work

So don’t think that you’re done

A year from now we’ll retell this story

We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, you’ll see

By then you’ll all have real degrees

And this will be a memory

So bye for now, Aufwiederzhein

We bid you all adieu

Know that we wish you luck, we’ll miss you all

And.. above all…

We love you.

Watch the full "faux-mencement" below...