Campus, News

Department deans respond to decision to let students walk at graduation this spring

By: Juan Calvillo, Acsah Lemma and Anthony Orrico

After much turmoil last school year over Long Beach State’s decision to not let students walk at graduation, it was announced that students will return to the stage for the spring 2024 ceremony at Angel Stadium.

CSULB dean’s shared their thoughts on the decision for students receiving more recognition during commencement ceremonies.

“I’m excited for our students to have their names announced during graduation and be able to cross the stage in a traditional rite of passage,” Anna Ortiz, dean of the College of Education, said.

Curtis Bennett, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, said that he’s glad of Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley’s decision and that he is very supportive in the endeavor.

“I’m glad we came together as a community to find a solution that works for everybody,” Bennett said.

While the deans didn’t take part in the final decision, Bennett says that President Conoley consults with the deans in her decision-making.

The commencement ceremony was moved from on-campus to Angel Stadium because the larger venue would have been able to accommodate CSULB’s graduating population as well as COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

“We’re in this new world,” Bennett said. “I think COVID will always have changed everything and one of the lessons we’re learning is that there is no going back to not having had COVID.”

Dean of the College of Business Michael Solt is also in support with the decision about commencement, saying he is pleased that both the President and ASI were able to have good conversations to make this resolution happen.

Although the ultimate decision was to return to Angel Stadium, Solt shared that he sees both positives and negatives to having the stadium as a venue instead of holding the commencement ceremony on campus.

Among those positives, Solt says since the stadium is a bigger venue, students are able to bring more guests, have excellent parking facilities and a nice overall setup. He understood however that students can feel disconnected since there is a large separation from the audience and the stage.

“I see both sides and I’m happy that we have a resolution where we can still hold the commencement ceremonies at [Angel Stadium], yet hopefully remove a large issue that students have been passionate about for several years,” Solt said.

Bennett had similar thoughts, saying that he hears from students from both sides, one of those being about the celebration aspects that the stadium brings to families, such as a party atmosphere and even having tailgates.

“The ability at Angel Stadium, the ability afterward to see the students. There are better gathering spaces. Honestly, it’s been one of the very nice things,” Bennett said.

Even with the stadium locked in for commencement, the class of 2024 will still receive recognition for their achievements.

“Although being away from campus may not be preferred, I am relieved we will be able to accommodate more of students’ family and friends than we would in any other setting,” Bennett said.

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