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CSULB to host graduation at Angel Stadium for 2nd straight year; student’s won’t walk stage

For the second straight year, Cal State Long Beach will hold commencement ceremonies at Angel Stadium, with graduates neither walking the stage nor hearing their names read aloud, the university announced this week, though some students appear upset by the coronavirus-induced decision — with a petition already posted online.

The ceremonies, organized by college, will run from May 16 to 18.

The announcement that CSULB will once again move graduations to the large, outdoor venue in Anaheim came as the region and the nation deal with a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations because of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

And officials made the decision with COVID-19 in mind.

“With continued concerns about the impacts of Covid on live events and mega events,” CSULB spokesman James Milbury said in an email Friday evening, Jan. 21, “the stadium is a prudent selection to ensure no matter the status of the pandemic our students would have access to in person commencement ceremonies.”

The campus, he said, will use the entire stadium property to provide graduates with experiences that are family-oriented and celebratory.

“To help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Milbury said, “it is true that this year’s commencement ceremony will be very similar to that of last year.”

Students, for example, won’t be recognized by having their names announced as they walk the stage in front of their peers.

Instead, there will be a two-hour ceremony where students, faculty and family will all be together to hear commencement speeches and see a processional of faculty and university officials, the CSULB website reads. The dean of each college will also recognize some outstanding students.

The university will set up “graduate recognition stages” in the parking lot of Angel Stadium, where graduates can step onto a stage to have their name read out loud by an automated machine. The stages will be open before, during and after the ceremony.

But it appears some students aren’t happy with that plan.

That includes Sarah Morales, who in May will become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

If she had it her way, Morales would be packed in a stadium with her fellow classmates — with her family watching — waiting to be recognized for her four years of hard work.

She would be dressed in a long black robe with a Mexican American sash draped over her shoulder. Her parents would cheer their daughter when they heard her name.

Morales’ father, an iron worker who builds bridges in Los Angeles, and her mother, a teacher’s aide for medically fragile students, won’t get to do that.

Instead, for the second straight year, the commencement ceremonies will be streamed on large television screens set up in the Angel Stadium parking lot.

“My parents struggled when I was younger, but they tried to give us everything I needed,” Morales said in a Friday interview. “It’s very hurtful that we aren’t getting the recognition.”

Morales, a criminal justice student, and a group of her peers have created an online petition to have CSULB reverse course.

The petition, was created Thursday — the day CSULB announced the Angel Stadium plan — and as of Friday evening, it ha nearly 900 signatures.

“A lot of us felt pretty cheated, especially since we pay a pretty hefty fee just to apply to graduate,” said Cara Vejsicky, a graduating master’s student, referencing the $75 application fee that graduates must pay.

Taylor Buhler-Scott, a spokeswoman for the Associated Students of CSULB, said that organization had no comment because it is too early and its officials haven’t talked to their constituents yet.

Vejsicky, for her part, also said there seems to be some inconsistency with CSULB’s commencement plan and other university events — and the graduation plans of other CSUs.

CSULB, for example, hosts some in-person indoor events, like basketball and volleyball games.

And other CSUs are hosting in-person graduations this summer, including Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona.

“I understand their reasoning for wanting to be safe and not wanting to expose people to COVID,” Vejsicky said, but added the policy seems inconsistent.

Vejsicky, 24, earned her bachelor’s degree in 2020, but she decided not to walk because her ceremony was delayed because of the pandmeic. She is now pursuing her master’s in English.

“I was hopeful to have a real graduation ceremony,” she said.

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Source: Orange County Register

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