Cal State LA announces postponement of Rose Bowl graduation ceremony after backlash

Thursday, May 6, 2021
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Cal State Los Angeles announced the postponement of graduation ceremonies at the Rose Bowl after initial plans for the commencement sparked a backlash.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Cal State Los Angeles on Wednesday said planned graduation ceremonies at the Rose Bowl are being postponed after initial plans for the commencement sparked a backlash.

"Since our announcement yesterday, we've heard heartfelt feedback from our students and others in our community," the university said in a statement. "We've decided that Cal State LA will not hold commencement ceremonies at the Rose Bowl Stadium. In our talks with stadium representatives, we all agreed that this is the best decision for our graduates and our university community."

Cal State LA's graduating class had previously expressed outrage with the university's administrators, saying the school was robbing them of a hard-earned commencement ceremony and using the pandemic as an excuse.

CSULA had informed its graduating seniors earlier this week that the school would hold an in-person commencement at the Rose Bowl on May 29th. There had been plans for two ceremonies: one for the Class of 2021 and another for the Class of 2020, which saw it's commencement suspended because of the pandemic.

But, at the time, the school said the upcoming Spring graduation ceremony would also have these stipulations:

  • No guests would be allowed inside the Rose Bowl
  • Students would not have their names announced
  • Walking the stage, hand-shaking or hooding (for graduate students) would not be allowed

CSULA students said the restrictions were not fair and pointed to other local universities that are holding in-person commencement ceremonies without any of those limits.

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"For a lot of these students, they're first generation (college graduates) and this is a big deal," said graduating senior Alfred Salas. "It's a very important thing to just get up there and hear your name and walk."

Salas is graduating magna cum laude. Before Wednesday's announcement, she was among the scores of Cal State LA students who voiced frustration with the university's initial pandemic-regulated commencement plan. Cal State LA's Instagram page was hit with a flurry of complaints. Students had even created a Change.org petition seeking to postpone the ceremony until students could bring family members and hear their names read as they collect their diplomas.

"Just being a Latina, it makes me so proud to have finished my education and be a role model to my kids, so for me not to be able to share that with them is heartbreaking," graduating senior Angelica Ventura told Eyewitness News.

"In-person ceremonies for the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020 will be held at a future date," the university's Wednesday statement said. "Our commencement will include guests, the reading of names, and other elements that graduates treasure. We will announce more details soon."