I am writing today in regard to the upcoming Spring
Commencement at Iowa Lakes. My son is on track to graduate
and will be participating in commencement ceremony.
For a kid who struggled academically thru high school, he
is very proud and excited of his accomplishment of graduating
from college. My wife and I are extremely proud of
his efforts as well.
However, our excitement was squashed yesterday when
we received notification that there would be limited attendance
at the ceremony. As you are well aware, Iowa
Lakes has decided to have the ceremony indoors and each
graduate is limited to ONE guest that can attend. While
COVID-19 has certainly required changes for all of us, I
would ask that you reconsider this approach to the commencement
By only allowing one guest per graduate, you are asking
that graduate to choose between which parent can attend or
if they are a non-traditional student, which family member
can attend. This is an undue and unnecessary burden to
place on the graduate. Just think back to when you graduated
college - would you have been able to choose which
family member could watch the live ceremony and which
ones had to watch it on television.
Having an in-person, non-limited, graduation ceremony is
not something that is off limits. Your counterparts at Iowa
State are having an outdoor ceremony and are not limiting
attendance. According to President Wintersteen, “We do
not anticipate needing to limit guest attendance due to the
large capacity and outdoor setting of the stadium”. I fully
understand that Iowa Lakes does not have a large outdoor
stadium. However, there are plenty of other outdoor options
that could be utilized to make an outdoor ceremony
This should be a time of celebration. These students have
endured a lot over the last two years and paid a significant
amount of money to become an Iowa Lakes graduate. They
deserve to be able to celebrate it. My son chose Iowa Lakes
over other options and choose to attend paying out-of-state
tuition and being at college over five hours from home.
The graduation ceremony leaves a bad impression at a time
when he is ready to enter the workforce and tell everyone
the great experience, he had at Iowa Lakes.
Again, I would ask that you please reconsider your stance
on limiting guests and/or consider an outdoor venue in
which to hold the ceremony. Thank you for your consideration.
Editor’s note: Iowa Lakes President Valerie Newhouse
gave the Estherville News permission to publish her response
to these concerns about this year’s graduation ceremoney
at the college.
Congratulations to your son on his great accomplishment
and thank you for taking the time to write expressing your
concern about the spring graduation ceremony at Iowa
Lakes Community College.
Employees at the college have thoroughly reviewed our
options, solicited student input and based decisions on
safety during this time. Celebrating our graduate’s achievements
in-person is our goal rather than hosting a virtual celebration.
In northwest Iowa, May is not the best month to
try to plan something outside, so we only looked at what we
could do inside. The decision was made and students were
notified of our plan in early February, based on coronavirus
numbers at the time.
We continue to monitor the positivity rates, and we hope
we can relax the number and allow two guests per graduate
as time gets closer, but students, employees and family
safety must remain our top priority.