Small conservative college ignores bans on large events, holds graduation ceremony
HILLSDALE, Mich - A small conservative college in southern Michigan has defied warnings from state public health officials during the coronavirus pandemic by hosting an in-person graduation ceremony.
Hillsdale College held graduation Saturday evening, capping days of celebrations, according to The Detroit News.
"COVID obviously was a concern," said David Betz, whose son, Christian, graduated. "For a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to come, it was well worth it."
The college of about 1,500 students had expected more than 2,000 people at the event, though school officials declined to discuss actual attendance numbers. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had called the gathering illegal at a time when with public gatherings are capped at 100 people.
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Health officials had said the event, drawing people to restaurants and hotels, put the HIllsdale city community of about 8,000 people at risk.
School officials said graduation is an important milestone and safety precautions were taken, including wearing masks. The liberal arts college has connections to top Republicans. Vice President Mike Pence gave 2018's commencement address.
Michigan has reported more than 73,000 confirmed COVID-19 with more than 6,100 deaths.