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Three CSULB seniors created the spring 2022 commencement petition for a ‘traditional walk’ at Angel Stadium

Over 6,800 Long Beach State students have signed the spring semester graduation petition calling for a traditional in-person commencement ceremony where graduates are able to walk across the main stage at the Angel Stadium.

Xiomara Santos, a fourth-year marketing major who graduated in December 2021 started this petition in order for Beach graduates to be properly recognized for their achievements during the CSULB commencement ceremony.

“After I read the commencement ceremony email, I was really upset,” she said. “I waited a whole extra semester in order to go to a traditional ceremony.”

Due to student concerns over the graduation plan, the CSULB Commencement Office sent out a campus-wide survey via email to graduates on Tuesday, Feb. 15 to vote for either a traditional graduation ceremony or the current socially distanced option.

The email also stated that survey responses are due on Saturday, Feb. 19 by 11:59 p.m.

Gregory Woods, CSULB director of news media services, said the spring commencement ceremony will follow Angel Stadium’s “applicable health and safety guidelines [and will] be monitored and managed by the stadium partners” due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woods also added that additional commencement information “will be sent to graduates and posted on the Commencement website throughout the spring [semester].”

Due to the sudden news, Santos commented on a CSULB Instagram post how unhappy she was over their decision to host a socially distanced ceremony.

“Being at home and having to teach ourselves was not easy, you lose motivation,” she said. “My parents have been rooting for me for the past 11 years, and I definitely want to make sure my name is going to be recognized, [so] they can see their daughter walk across the stage.”

Santos also said other CSULB students felt the same way about not getting a traditional graduation ceremony. So, with the help of two other Beach graduates, Erika Ramirez and Sarah Morales, they came together and started the petition.

“[The petition] started out with Erika, Sarah, and myself,” Santos said. “We then created this Instagram group chat and have been adding people who agree with us. It’s grown to [about] 16 people now that help us organize. So it took off really quickly.”

Erika Ramirez, a fourth-year international business major, helped co-create the petition because walking across the main stage means a lot to her.

“This degree has taken me years to complete, and I have worked so hard to be able to finish my classes with good grades,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t able to walk the stage after graduating [from] community college in 2020 due to the pandemic. [Instead], I had to watch a picture slide of myself on my TV with my close friends and family.”

Ramirez also said a traditional stage walk and having her “name read out loud would be such a beautiful feeling.”

“No one could take that away from me,” she said. “Not to mention, my mom can see that all her efforts and support she put in me paid off.”

Sarah Morales, a fourth-year criminal justice major, also helped create the graduation petition because she felt it was “unfair the commencement department planned graduation beforehand without listening to students’ perspectives.”

“CSUF was able to provide a traditional on-campus ceremony,” Morales said. “After seeing how many students were heartbroken over the school’s decision to not honor [CSULB] graduates the correct way, I knew I had to help. So, I created a group chat with other people in the [CSULB Instagram post] comments.”

As the three creators continue to spread the word about the petition, friendships were also made along the way. Ramirez, in this case, has enjoyed working with Morales and Santos.

“I am extremely happy that I found a group of people who share the same passion about walking the stage,” Ramirez said. “[All of us] have been able to do so much in terms of coming up with ideas and plans on what else we could do to make our requests happen, and every one of us has stayed driven.”

The CSULB Commencement Office announced the spring 2022 graduation ceremony would be hosted once again at the Angel Stadium from May 16 to May 18.

For more information or further updates, visit the CSULB commencement website.

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