As graduation season approaches, many graduating seniors across the country are eagerly anticipating their long-awaited traditional commencement ceremony. The pomp and circumstance, the closeness of loved ones, hearing their names called out and feeling a sense of pride and acknowledgment.
Unfortunately, for the class of 2023, this momentous occasion is being taken away from them by administration, who have decided not to allow them to walk across the stage during the ceremony.
The reasons for this decision are unclear, and the administration has not provided any explanation, leaving seniors and their families feeling disappointed, frustrated and confused.
When the ceremony was moved to Angel Stadium of Anaheim, 25 minutes from Long Beach, it was meant as an alternative due to COVID-19 regulations allowing for more space. But as the campus is now back to normal with in-person classes, games with sold-out seating and evidence of extracurricular activities flourishing during club rush week, why is this poor substitute of a commencement ceremony seen as “better.”
Graduating from college is a significant achievement in one’s life that signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. A school with over 30,000 first-generation students needs to realize that the decision to pursue higher education is an extended milestone that involves an entire community hoping to celebrate with their students, which would be in a traditional commencement.
This concern doesn’t only apply to first-generation students either. The students who have reached this accomplishment facing economic barriers, students experiencing homelessness and balancing being a student and parent must be recognized for their hard work.
It’s unacceptable that college administration has not provided a clear and logical explanation for this decision. Students and families deserve to know why they are being denied this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
There are numerous examples of other universities like CSUF, CSUN, CSUDH that successfully returned to traditional graduation ceremonies so the bigger question to answer is if this decision is being made because of money or effort.
This also highlights a broader issue with a lack of communication and transparency between the administration and students. The decision made not to allow graduates to walk across the stage without any explanation demonstrates a disregard for the student body and a failure to prioritize their needs.
Fourth-year student Zeina Elrachid started an online petition on Change.org demanding the class of ’23 walk along with two other students. In just over two weeks, it’s reached over 15,000 signatures from students and parents.
“I think she [Conoley] should have more motivation and understanding,” Elrachid said. “You can’t just cut it down because it’s convenient for you. You can’t cut our experience down.”
The class of ’23 worked hard to reach this momentous occasion and they deserve the opportunity to walk across the stage and celebrate their accomplishments. Administration needs to prioritize the needs and well-being of students, particularly during such a significant moment in their lives.
Denying students, the opportunity to experience a traditional graduation ceremony is not only disappointing but also a disservice to their efforts and sends a clear statement that their hard work and dedication aren’t valued or recognized.
Class of 2024, your time is looming in the distance.