Students from the classes of 2020 and 2021 express mixed feelings toward hybrid commencement

With coronavirus cases continuing to rise, Long Beach State administrators have decided to refrain from hosting an in-person commencement ceremony this spring. Instead, 2021’s celebration will look different from previous years and will consist of a contactless car parade and virtual presentations. 

However, many students completing their last year at the Beach aren’t happy with the administration’s plans for commencement. After the announcement, many students took to social media to express their distaste for the decision and share possible alternative plans to the contactless vehicle parade. 

Mawish Rahman, a fourth-year economics major expected to graduate during the spring semester, said she felt disheartened while reading the commencement email campus officials sent out Friday. 

“My education career was a mess until I transferred to CSULB. My grades were finally great and I was gathering a few achievements as a student, so the news was really disheartening to read,” Rahman said. “I feel like my chance to celebrate has been taken away.” 

Rahman said she was hoping that commencement would be her opportunity to celebrate her accomplishment. She was “really looking forward to the event” as she didn’t enjoy her high school graduation and chose not to obtain a degree from her community college.  

Although she said she understands that the coronavirus pandemic caused commencement plans to be adjusted, she still thinks the university could have done something different planning out the event. 

“Although I greatly appreciate that commencement isn’t being canceled altogether, I still feel like this is somehow not enough,” Rahman said.

After waiting almost a year for a ceremony from CSULB, many graduates from the class of 2020 didn’t express enthusiasm about the commencement news either.

Marian Navarro, a 2020 graduate who majored in history, believed that the university should have asked the students for their opinions on how they felt commencement should be offered this year. 

I am sure the university did all they could and may have proposed several plans that were probably rejected, but it would have been nice if there was another plan that worked to make it safe for everyone,” Navarro said. “They also could have kept postponing it. A student survey would have been nice. Students proposed a lot of good ideas.” 

Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, said in an email that the administration came to the decision of a hybrid ceremony “based on conversations over the past few weeks and student survey data” collected from the spring “in light of what we anticipate will be the prevailing public health protocols this May.”

As a 32-year-old first-generation college student, Navarro said she has sacrificed a lot to achieve this milestone in her life. 

“This graduation ceremony would have meant the world to me,” Navarro said. “There is a lot of sacrifice and hard work put into this big achievement, not only by me, but my parents who sacrificed a lot to move to the U.S. so I can have a great future with opportunities.” 

While some students have said they aren’t satisfied with the contactless vehicle parade plans, fourth-year social work major Diana Regalado said she actually prefers this option to the traditional ceremony. 

“I like that it’s safe, and short, so we can stay safe and not worry about being there for hours. I appreciate this option,” Regalado said. 

Regardless of whether or not they support the idea, many students have said they are still deciding to participate in the socially distanced event. 

“I will still attend the car parade, I guess, because it is still a university celebration, but it would not be the same,” Navarro said. “I would still be very disappointed in the university if they don’t have an in-person one to make up in the future.” 

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  1. Pingback: BREAKING: CSULB to consider in-person commencement this May pending governor approval - Daily Forty-Niner

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