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We, the Dental Hygiene Class of 2021, have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in several ways. While we appreciate the efforts made that allowed our education to continue at Pacific, we also believe that we have been robbed of several memorable, lifetime experiences. From cancelled trips, missed national conventional events, limited external and internal rotations, to a divided cohort who had little means of interaction. On May 1st, 2021, Pacific decided to hold a virtual recognition ceremony for dental hygiene students. We feel incredibly disappointed that we will not be able to walk in person for our recognition ceremony. We feel that this decision is premature and that the administration should consider a socially distant, mask-only, in-person ceremony option for our program.

A recognition ceremony is a great milestone for all that should be celebrated in person. It is one of the most important and recognizable rites of passage. It is an opportunity to celebrate the end of a difficult journey with family and friends, recognize all accomplishments, and look forward to future ones. Being denied an in-person recognition ceremony is not right. Many students will be the first in their families to graduate and walk a stage. A virtual recognition ceremony simply does not confer the same meaning as an in-person recognition ceremony.

In addition, a virtual ceremony for our dental hygiene program lacks consistency with other events hosted during the semester by different programs at the University. The School of Pharmacy recently hosted their in-person White Coat Ceremony that celebrates at least 100 students' accomplishments and commitment while still complying with state and county regulations. The in-person White Coat Ceremony was hosted on April 16, 2021, before Governor Kate Brown lifted safety restrictions and mask requirements for vaccinated individuals. The Physical Therapy students were also allowed to celebrate their accomplishments outside on May 15h, 2021. The Dental Hygiene class cohort consists of ONLY 33 students, far less than most CHP programs. It is essential to consider that students were mandated to get fully vaccinated unless presented with medical conditions that would otherwise make them ineligible. On May 13, 2021, the CDC released a new mask-wearing guidance saying that fully vaccinated Americans can stop wearing masks in most indoor and outdoor locations.

The university’s decision to have a virtual recognition ceremony would make sense if the school was moving forward with virtual education. However, that is not the case. Pacific University has made the decision to move forward with in-person classes starting this Summer Term 2021. Pacific University has allowed students to participate in socially-distanced activities, continue to live in dorms, and other in-person activities. It is apparent that the university is willing to conduct activities that fall within the county’s guidelines. For these reasons, we believe an in-person ceremony is a MUST.

An in-person recognition ceremony would grant us the ability to hear our names announced, physically celebrate with our cohort, honor the hard work we have devoted into getting our degrees, and be recognized for student awards. The graduating class of 2021 has demonstrated nothing but resilience, strength, and determination. We have shown the true definition of flexibility in the face of a worldwide pandemic and deserve to have an in-person ceremony as the culmination of our years of perseverance and hard work. Together, we can demonstrate our ability and professionalism to safely hold this important milestone event for students during this unprecedented time. Please sign this petition if you believe that Pacific University Dental Hygiene Class of 2021 students should have the option of an in-person ceremony, whether or not you would attend.


School of Dental Hygiene Studies Graduating Class of 2021

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