Campus, News

Everything you need to know about commencement for the classes of 2020-21

March 22 

Long Beach State’s Commencement Office announced via email that the registration deadline for the 2021 commencement ceremony is delayed until further notice.

“Due to the complexities of this year’s commencement schedule, we ask you hold both May 18 to 21 and May 28 to 31. The registration RSVP will be delayed until a final date is set,” the email read.

The university sent out an email Thursday to graduating seniors asking for their input on what commencement ceremony they would prefer, an in-person ceremony or a hybrid celebration.

This comes after the university announced that they are in the planning stages of an in-person ceremony pending governor approval. The in-person ceremony would be May 28 to 31, a week after the car caravan would take place.

Starting March 22, graduating students have the option to create a “custom graduate slide” to commemorate their accomplishments.

Students can upload photos to personalize their slides, which will be due by May 1.

“The statement can be a quote that inspired them while working toward their degree, a word of thanks to any family, friends and faculty members that helped them during their journey or a reflection on their time as a Beach student,” the commencement website said.

Updates will be made available on the university’s commencement website.

Iman Palm

March 18 

Long Beach State’s Commencement Office is seeking feedback from the campus community regarding potential plans to move forward with an in-person ceremony pending approval from the governor’s office.

“We are anticipating updated guidance from the California Department of Public Health that may allow us modified in-person gatherings in a fixed seating outdoor stadium. Based on this anticipated guidance, we have an immediate opportunity to move our Commencement ceremonies to a regional stadium,” the statement reads.

This development comes after university administrators indicated an in-person graduation ceremony was being considered.

Students from the graduation classes 2020-21 are asked to complete a two-question survey, which was sent to their student emails, asking whether they would prefer an on-campus, vehicle based ceremony or an in-person regional stadium ceremony.

The survey is open until Saturday, March 20 at 11:59 p.m.

Dates for an in-person commencement ceremony would move to May 28 to 31, a week later than the on-campus vehicle parade would take place.

During the in-person event, participating will gather to hear a message from President Jane Close Conoley and other keynote speakers.

Participants will remain seated and socially distant throughout the ceremony while graduate information appears on a scoreboard. According to the statement the ceremony will be live-streamed onto screens available to be viewed from the parking lot in the case that friends and family are unable to enter the venue.

If plans continue as previously announced, the drive-thru caravan will allow students to see their names individually displayed on jumbo screens as they remain in their vehicles with the members of their household.

This format will also be live-streamed for friends and family to view remotely.

A final decision will be made following final approval from the governor’s office and completion of the poll.

Updates will be made available on the university’s commencement website.

Madalyn Amato

March 16

Long Beach State is considering hosting an in-person commencement ceremony potentially at an outside venue in accordance with new state guidelines, President Jane Close Conoley confirmed Tuesday. 

“We are hopeful that the new guidelines we expect from the governor will allow for a face-to-face commencement,” Conoley said in an email. 

According to Conoley, the university has plans to move forward with a face-to-face graduation for the classes of 2020 and 2021 this May in the event Gov. Gavin Newsom releases updated information that permits in-person gatherings. 

As of March 11, California authorizes limited capacity live events under the red tier beginning April 1, 2021 with modifications such as a maximum capacity of 20%, a weekly worker testing program and in-state visitors only, depending on the state’s travel advisory. 

Conoley said that the state’s updated guidelines “may allow us to rent a big venue, for example Angel Stadium, and hold ceremonies there that will keep us within the guidelines associated with capacity limits.” 

The hybrid ceremony is currently scheduled for May 18 to 21. It is not known yet if these dates will change for the proposed in-person event.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed in an email that the state has moved toward authorizing events of this degree starting next month. 

“In preparation for the end of the school year, CDPH announced that graduation and commencement ceremony organizers can begin to plan for events following the Outdoor Live Events with Assigned Seats and Controlled Mixing guidelines, which take effect on April 1. More detailed guidance is forthcoming,” the statement reads. 

This comes after the city of Long Beach and Los Angeles County have progressed from the purple tier, or widespread risk, into the red tier, or substantial risk, Monday, March 15 under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. 

Under the city’s directive, places like movie theaters, restaurants and gyms are now able to reopen with indoor operations and limited capacity. Outdoor live events may resume in the city at limited capacity beginning April 1, which would be in time for the spring commencement. 

Conoley said that Michelle Cesca, vice president for University Relations and Development, has been working with her team to develop plans for alternative ceremonies. 

Prior to this news, students have voiced their disappointment surrounding the plan for a hybrid ceremony, leading some to even organize and sign a petition that urges the university to consider having an in-person commencement. 

As of March 16, the change.org petition has over 350 signatures with a current goal of reaching 500 signatures.

Other California State University campuses like San Diego State University  and California State University, Dominguez Hills have announced they are considering an in-person event this May. 

“We’re excited and hopeful and just trying not to get too far ahead of the governor,” Conoley said.

This story will be updated as more detailed information about commencement becomes available.

Iman Palm & Julia Terbeche

March 9

Long Beach State graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be able to register for commencement beginning Monday, March 22. The car caravan ceremony will be taking place from May 18 through 21.

Students will be honored by their colleges throughout the week:

  • College of Health & Human Services — May 18 and 19
  • College of Liberal Arts — May 18 and 19
  • College of Business — May 20
  • College of Engineering — May 20
  • College of the Arts — May 21
  • College of Education — May 21
  • College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics — May 21

Any graduates planning to attend the event must register for a time slot using a unique registration link that will be sent to their student emails, according to the university commencement page. Registration will close Friday, April 9.

The 49er Shops Bookstore is hosting its annual Grad Fair this week, from March 8 through 12, at which graduates can purchase their caps, gowns, sashes, class rings and other memorabilia.

Though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has approved vehicle-based parades, the plan is still pending approval from the Long Beach Department of Public Health.

Occurring simultaneously at two locations, the GO BEACH sign and the west side of the Walter Pyramid, the ceremony will feature a live-stream of graduates passing across the vehicle stage “with their name and major proudly displayed on the screen” which will be “done by professional voice actors,” according to the website.

Participating graduates are each allocated one vehicle pass, which they must claim starting April 19 to attend the in-person component of the ceremony, and allows members of the student’s household to join. When claiming their pass, students will be given their 30-minute slot.

Also included in the March 22 email from [email protected] will be information on how students can upload photos to personalize their graduation slides, which will be due by May 1.

“The statement can be a quote that inspired them while working toward their degree, a word of thanks to any family, friends and faculty members that helped them during their journey or a reflection on their time as a Beach student,” the website reads.

Graduates planning to participate in the caravan event should refer to the commencement checklist found on the university’s webpage:

  • Share information with friends and family
  • Get commencement gear at Grad Fair: March 8 through 12
  • RSVP to attend commencement: March 22 to April 9
  • Submit name pronunciation information: March 22 to April 9
  • Submit custom grad slide photo and quote by May 1
  • Claim vehicle pass from April 19 to May 3

Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles with magnets and personalize their caps.

More information is available at https://www.csulb.edu/commencement/ceremony.

Julia Terbeche

January 18

According to university officials, Long Beach State’s commencement ceremony this May will be a “vehicle caravan” honoring the classes of 2020 and 2021. The contactless car parade will allow graduates to reserve a 30-minute window in March to be honored sometime from May 18 to 21.

Graduating students began expressing mixed feelings toward the alternative ceremony after administrators officially announced via a campus-wide email last month that CSULB will be hosting a hybrid event in lieu of the traditional, in-person commencement. With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the state, the university felt it was necessary to move forward with a plan that doesn’t include congregating in large groups.

Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, said that the celebration will feature two stages set up on campus, one by the “GO BEACH” sign and one by the Walter Pyramid. Students will be appointed a time slot that is dependent on their graduation year and their department.

“My understanding is it will be segmented both by year as well as the college and program you’re graduating from,” Cook said. “So both classes will be honored at separate times.”

The university’s plan still requires official approval from the city’s health department.

To accommodate both classes of graduates, Conoley said she expects the ceremony to span about a week, and students will be able to register in March, at no additional fee, to receive their time slot. She said that students will have their names read aloud and be honored via a jumbo screen displayed with photographs.

“There’s still going to be a big screen, the student would send in pictures and stuff ahead of time and we’d be up there so there’s a chance to take a picture of yourself on the big screen,” Conoley said. “And we have some of our folks there on stages to then congratulate them.”

According to Cook, officials are also toying with the idea of giving students recognition on personalized online pages.

“I think they’re experimenting with some models about photos and quotes and such that you can upload to your page too, so it will be a hybrid experience,” Cook said.

More details including confirmation of approval from the health officials will be updated on the commencement page by the end of the month and sent to graduates’ student email, according to the university’s website.

Julia Terbeche

Dec. 9, 2020

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.” 

Iman Palm

Dec. 4, 2020

Campus officials announced via email Friday that Long Beach State will hold a hybrid commencement ceremony with a contactless vehicle parade and virtual presentations this spring for the classes of 2020 and 2021. 

Graduates of the classes of 2020 and 2021 are being asked to register in March of 2021 to reserve a 30-minute window that will be based on their graduation year and college. 

“Our on-campus experience will allow our students to hear their names read aloud and see their names displayed across a jumbo screen,” the email said. “Save the dates of May 18-21, 2021.”

Details of the plans must be approved by local public health officials and will be released to students by the end of January, according to the email. 

Speeches and other recognitions will be available online on the university’s commencement website.

According to Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communications, CSULB administration came to this decision “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.”

“University consultation with public health officials is ongoing,” Cook said. 

This story was updated on Dec. 4 at 6:13 p.m. to include information from campus administration. 

Julia Terbeche

Dec. 1, 2020

Long Beach State administrators have yet to announce an official decision regarding the status of commencement for the class of 2021, despite stating previously that plans would be finalized by Dec. 1. 

“The university is still exploring options in consultation with public health officials,” said Jeff Cook, associate vice president of strategic communication. 

President Jane Close Conoley said in September that the university would make an announcement by Dec. 1 on whether or not there will be a spring ceremony as “it takes six months of planning to really make graduation work.” 

“We hope to be able to offer an update soon,” Cook said.

Julia Terbeche

July 31, 2020

Long Beach State’s class of 2020 is scheduled to join the class of 2021 commencement celebration next May, President Jane Close Conoley announced Friday.  

After weighing health concerns stemming from the coronavirus, CSULB officials decided the safest option would be to push the public event to the week of May 17-23, 2021. 

According to Jeff Cook, chief communications officer for CSULB, the public health department denied the school’s plans for an in-person commencement in fall of 2020. 

“We are committed to providing our class of 2020 with an in-person experience for graduation,” Cook said. “Due to the current COVID conditions in L.A. County, we had no choice but move forward recognizing both graduating classes next year.”

Cook said additional days and ceremonies will be added to the May commencement to honor all participants. 

In a video statement from May, Conoley said she felt the heartbreak of commencement being postponed and that graduates deserve an in-person celebration to honor their achievement. 

“While the delay may be disappointing, it is necessary to safeguard the health of those in attendance and meet the expectations of our students and families to offer an in-person experience,” Conoley said in the statement released Friday. 

While considering a virtual commencement, CSULB administrators surveyed the student body and found that the majority of students were willing to wait to experience an in-person event. 

Officials promised the class of 2020 there would be an update about their commencement by August 1, Cook said, and considered several options before submitting the most cautious plan to the public health department. 

“We recognize the importance to our students and their families to provide equitable recognition of both class years,” Cook said. “We will provide an update in December 2020.”

Julia Terbeche

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