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With Coronavirus Closing Their School, Massachusetts Engineering College Seniors Hold Joyous, Last-Minute ‘Fauxmencement’ Exercises

By Tim Newcomb | March 18, 2020

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It isn’t every senior class that celebrates commencement wearing origami caps and garbage-bag gowns. But when engineering students at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts decided to quickly cobble together a “fauxmencement” ceremony before coronavirus concerns shut down their school, their creative chops were on full display.

In about 40 hours’ time, students planned the March 12 ceremony and fashioned their own commencement regalia, everything from cloth robes to black trash bags for gowns and plenty of origami mortarboards and yarn tassels.

With the Olin Conductorless Orchestra playing and students, faculty, family and staff blowing bubbles toward the soon-to-be graduates, college president Rick Miller spoke to the crowd about what matters most. “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,” he said.

The event included a “fauxmencement” address by an assistant dean, eight seniors sharing messages of friendship, humor and hopes for the remainder of the semester, and seniors receiving “fauxplomas.”

The students’ creativity in planning the last-minute event, which was endorsed by the college faculty, staff and Board of Trustees, was matched only by the ingenuity of Mark Somerville, interim provost and dean of faculty, who capped the festivities with this special something for the students:

Now Fauxmencement’s at an end

And we’re going all online

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, Aufwiedersehen

We bid you all adieu

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

And … above all …

We love you.

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