For the second year in a row, Cal State Long Beach will hold commencement ceremonies at Angel Stadium, with graduates neither walking the stage nor having their names read aloud, according to the university commencement website.
On Thursday, a group of eight graduating CSULB students expressed disappointment with this year’s 2022 commencement plans by holding an all-day demonstration at the school in which they circulated a petition calling for the university to hold a traditional graduation ceremony.
That online petition now has nearly 6,500 signatures, according to organizers, who added that they gained more than 200 signatures on Thursday. The university’s Instagram comment section has also been flooded with hundreds of comments from students calling for a traditional graduation ceremony.
Xiomara Santos, a CSULB Fall 2021 graduate who is poised to walk the stage in May, created the petition on Jan. 20, the same day the university announced the ceremony plans. She said she believes students deserve more than what the university is offering.
“It’s been a very difficult journey,” said Santos, who has been working towards her college degree for 11 years. “Me and other transfer students won’t even get an ounce of recognition from the university that we worked so hard to transfer into.”
According to the university, the ceremonies, organized by college, will be held over the course of three days from May 16 to 18. Graduates will line up for the procession that will begin one hour before the ceremony starts and then will step up onto and cross a platform set up for them to be on the jumbo screen at the stadium. Then they will proceed to their seats in the stands.
During the two-hour ceremony, remarks will be given by distinguished speakers, outstanding graduates and the dean of each college.
Students will not have their names read aloud during the procession but the university will set up eight “Graduation Recognition Stages” in the stadium’s parking lot where they will be able to scan a QR code and have their personalized graduation slide projected on a screen behind them with a pre-recording of their name. The stages will be open before, during and after the ceremony.
Jose Sanchez-Castro, a graduating senior and anthropology major, is taking all of his classes online but drove to campus to show his support for the group. “I was robbed of my on-campus experience. … This is the least we could get out of it,” he said.
According to students, an ASI meeting with members of the university’s commencement committee had over 80 students in attendance Wednesday night. School senators advocated to have student representation at future commencement committee meetings to ensure transparency.
Gregory Woods, a university spokesman, said in a statement that the school is “aware of some students’ interest in name-reading” and is exploring options. But Woods noted that the 2021 commencement ceremonies at Angel Stadium were “well-received” and that the school believes “the majority of students and families will be exceptionally pleased this year as well.”
Originally, the university cited COVID-19 concerns as their reasoning for the commencement decision.
CSU San Diego, Fullerton and Dominguez Hills will all have in-person graduation ceremonies at their respective campuses, where students will walk across a stage and have their names read aloud.