Honoring the University of Rochester Class of 2020

After the overwhelmingly-positive community response to the creation of Virtual UR, our team worked to develop a plan for honoring the achievements of the Class of 2020.

At first, the plan was to hold an unofficial Virtual UR commencement as the launch of the Virtual UR Minecraft world. But when our team heard the voices of the senior class telling us they weren’t interested in graduating on a virtual stage – they simply wanted to connect with their peers while separated due to COVID-19 – we adapted to meet the need.

With the community’s voices in mind, Alexander (the Virtual UR project manager) created a new plan involving one of the most special locations on the River Campus: the painted tunnels. The painted tunnels “are a place for student expression, so it seemed fitting to create a similar virtual campus environment where we could honor the Class of 2020 and the many emotions students feel right now,” Alexander says.

The Virtual UR team got right to work, gathering photos of the senior class and their experiences on campus and preparing to build a new underground tunnel system across the Eastman Quad, Rush Rhees Library, and Wilson Commons. By the time of the Virtual UR launch event, over 40 photos of seniors had been submitted, and over a million blocks had been placed in the Minecraft world.

The result of several weeks of hard work was a stunning virtual rendition of the painted tunnels, with the submitted senior class photos lining the walls. Out front, a sign dedicated to the Class of 2020, with a personal message from the Virtual UR team:

We Love You.

The front of the painted tunnel system, as viewed from the tunnel entrance near Rettner Hall.
Photos submitted by the Class of 2020 show the wide range of positive experiences students had during their time at the University of Rochester.