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 continue to be backed up with excuses from the event organizers that are fallacy in their own.
When the ceremony was moved to Angel Stadium, 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.
Over and over, administration continues to gaslight the student body and impose their views on how this ceremony style is better and more comfortable for guests and easier on the faculty. But they fail to hear the chants and demands that what should be at the center of the ceremony are the students that spent more than four years at CSULB.
If this ceremony is meant to “recognize” students, why doesn’t the administration ask us what we want to happen? Why don’t they involve students in the planning of the ceremony? Is Conoley and administration that tone deaf to continue blocking us out and sighing at the end of each e-mail?
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.
$1.2 million dollars is a lot of money. Though the holes in the administration’s logic start to appear when the school that’s closer to Angel Stadium spends that same figure to host ceremonies on campus and not haul their entire graduation there to “cut costs” and “create comfort.”
This also highlights a broader issue with a lack of communication and transparency between 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.
CSULB needs to implement a better strategy in the commencement planning by creating a campus-wide committee that involves students. Simply sending out e-mails and surveys to the student body about what they want in a ceremony and disregarding the replies later breaks any trust students have in the administration to do their job well.
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.
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 18,000 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.”
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.