For many college students, attending an in-person graduation ceremony still isn't possible this year

People can now go to the movies, eat inside a restaurant and other things that they couldn't do a year ago. For many college students, attending a regular graduation ceremony is still not one of them.

"A lot of students just feel they didn't get the closure that they wanted and they honestly feel that they deserved and I feel like we do deserve that," said Veronica Mireles.

She graduated from Cal State Northridge last spring and has been waiting for her chance to take part in a graduation ceremony. She says for months the school kept postponing it. She wants to wait until it can be done in person but the university says it is now planning a virtual ceremony.

"They didn't really give us an option. They just said this is the virtual ceremony that all last year's students and this year's students are invited to participate in and they didn't really say if we were allowed to wait," Mireles added.

Several students at Cal State San Bernardino have started a petition demanding a safe commencement graduation. They say it is a turning point in their lives.

"Walking across the stage is being recognized in a different way and I think being recognized in a slideshow isn't the same," said student George Navarro.

The university says a commencement ceremony typically attracts between 4,000 to 10,000 people. In a statement it said "the university would prefer an in-person commencement, but we will not jeopardize the health and safety of the members of the CSUSB community."

CSUN has an option where graduates would take part in a graduation parade. They would stay in their car and drive slowly through the campus, then stop at the library where graduates could get out take a picture. All the while, university employees would be cheering them on.

CSUN officials say they tried to do an in-person graduation. They were looking at this as far back as last year, but the school did not have access to a venue that could hold such a large event. They all had prior commitments.

"As we were looking for various venues, it was clear to us that, at the time, the venues were not open or available or even (intending) to open again... it was amid the pandemic," said CSUN's Christopher Aston.

However, some students and parents feel the situation has changed and schools need to adapt.

"We can now go watch live professional sports, movie theaters, all these things we can do... concerts are opening, amusement parks -- a safe graduation can definitely be done," said parent Shawna Mitchell.

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