Hillsdale College holds in-person graduation ceremony


HILLSDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been limiting the size of social gatherings due to COVID-19, causing many ceremonies and events to cancel.

But Hillsdale College, east of Battle Creek, held its graduation normally.

“Oh, I get to come and see my friends again, and give them a hug,” said Cindy Suire, a Hillsdale resident. “That’s what we don’t want.”

She’s one of the folks who spoke to News 8’s partners WLSN and WILX near Lansing, concerned about the graduation.

“A lot of people are dying from this, and a lot of people just don’t care,” she said.

Hillsdale’s website says there are about 1,500 undergraduate students with nearly 7 out of 10 of them coming from out of state.

“I appreciate that we are able to because I was looking forward to it,” said Elizabeth Vietor, a graduating senior at Hillsdale College. “And it was a bummer to finish my senior year online, so I’m really thankful to Hilllsdale, unlike a lot of different universities are actually making an effort to prioritize that for its students.”

And the school says it is following all of the proper safety guidelines.

“You could have your neighbor over to your house and catch coronavirus from them,” said Hillsdale Mayor Adam Stockford. “I don’t have any specific concerns about it, but I’m sure it’s a possibility.”

And with that, the mayor of Hillsdale says he will let the school govern itself.

“It’s not typical for our city government to get involved in the affairs of private institutions,” he said. “I’m not in the business of trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

But there’s still plenty of concern out there.

“I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease),” Suire said. “But I’m doing my part.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the following statement on the graduation:

“Organized gatherings of more than 100 people are prohibited by law in that part of the state, and such events clearly show a lack of consideration for the dangerous threat this virus presents.

Should this event proceed, we trust the local law enforcement agencies to exercise their authority and discretion in their enforcement efforts.

We sympathize with those who want to celebrate the success of college graduates, but the unfortunate circumstances surrounding this pandemic have made that difficult for many, and we encourage alternatives to large assemblies that could further jeopardize the health of many people.”

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