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Editorials, Opinions

Commencement Conundrum: Lack of communication leaves students confused

Less than four months away from 2018 graduation, thousands of Cal State Long Beach seniors were shocked to have the rug pulled out from under them after learning that live music would be cut from the ceremony and the original venue would be moved.

When the changes to the 2018 commencement were announced last Tuesday, they were not done in a way that gave the students a chance to participate or respond. The changes were uncovered in a small Academic Senate meeting, a body with no student representation, after members had mentioned this major shift in the ceremony as a side note. As of last week, reporters were told that the university’s public relations department wasn’t aware of these changes and could not comment.

We at the Daily 49er Editorial Board find this lack of communication on such a major announcement to be unacceptable for such a competitive and influential university. Students were not given a chance to respond and were not involved in any of the discussions about the changes. The administration did not offer any alternatives, or make an effort to see what students would be willing to give up to keep the live band until the the news was revealed to students in a Feb. 6 article.

As student media, covering administration has its ups and downs — however, with great power (and a great paycheck) comes the responsibility of holding oneself accountable for distributing information to the campus body in a transparent and timely manner. Unfortunately, administration did not succeed in this instance.

We would like to know when university administration planned on releasing this information to those whom commencement matters to most: the class of 2018.

In an email to faculty uncovered by the 49er, the news of the relocation and removal of music was announced on Jan. 25, well before students were informed of the changes. In this email, the administration states that the ceremony will now take place on the “Athletic Soccer Field.” When the name was changed in future emails to “intramural fields,” the initial report was called inaccurate by President Conoley. It seems to us that administrators simply weren’t on the same page, and this has left the newsroom (and the student body) with more questions than answers.

According to Conoley, the school will save up to $100,000 with these changes to the ceremony. But the band was only estimated to cost $13,000, leaving $87,000 in “savings” unaccounted for.

It also raises the question of how the university is going to save money by moving the ceremony down to the intramural field.

Overall, this is another example of a lack of communication between the administration and student body. Budget cuts or not, students should have been involved in this conversation from the beginning. Instead, administration kept this knowledge to themselves, announcing massive and sudden changes to a ceremony that has been going on for decades and one that graduating students have been looking forward to for a long time, was careless.

The proposed budget from Governor Jerry Brown has become a blanket excuse for administration mishandling money and bungling communication since it was announced. Students who have spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives at this university deserve better, and it shouldn’t take over 5,000 signatures  on a change.org petition and the student newspaper for the conversation to happen.

Read CSULB President Jane Close Conoley comments on graduation here

One Comment

  1. Avatar
    Jennifer Walby

    As a parent of a 2018 graduate, I’m deeply disappointed.
    There certainly should have been a discussion. And it seems as though the “savings” numbers just aren’t adding up.

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