Cal State Fullerton seniors are calling for the administration to hold an in-person graduation ceremony.
When the university announced on Jan. 29 that the class of 2021 will likely say goodbye through a screen, many students voiced their frustrations. Some CSUF students like Melinda Decker, a senior majoring in business, came up with their own plans on how the school could execute a safe in-person ceremony.
“We have that giant space in front of the kinesiology building where they could set something up and we could just drive through and get our diplomas,” Decker said.
Jonathan Bauer, a senior majoring in psychology, said the time frame of how long a potential ceremony could last does not concern many students as long as they are able to walk in their cap and gown and receive a diploma.
Though the decision from the administration has not been finalized, students are requesting a graduation fee refund if the school proceeds with the virtual ceremony.
Bauer created a petition that currently has over a 1,000 signatures which states that seniors should be refunded the fee since the graduates will not receive a proper ceremony. He said hopefully the plea would make the administration take the time to listen to the students.
“As of right now, people care more about the fact that they’re going to be in a cap and gown and hear their name being called,” Bauer said.
Cal State Long Beach has announced a drive-thru graduation in May where students will be able to register for a place to drive up in their vehicle across a designated stage to receive their diploma.
Bauer said that CSUF could do the event in parts over a span of two or three weeks. He added that the graduates would follow safety protocols like wearing a mask and social distancing.
Decker said it would be easier to plan as the graduation date comes closer because more people should be vaccinated by then.
Jillian Espinueva, a graduating political science major, said that planning out a safe graduation with strict guidelines would make students feel at ease and participate especially for those whose first year at CSUF was moved from in person to online.
“Anybody would dream to walk across the stage,” Espinueva said. “I'm already accepting the fact that it's fine if we don't have an in-person graduation just for the safety of others.”
CSUF, which is a commuter school with the transfer student rate increasing over the years, some have missed out on the true college experience with virtual classes and not being able to attend an in-person graduation, Espinueva said.
Samantha Sanchez, a senior psychology major, said that she was on the fence about a virtual graduation because COVID-19 cases are still high, but that given all the energy she put into her studies an in-person graduation ceremony would have been nice.
“It is probably the best thing possible to keep everybody safe, everybody’s family safe, but on the other hand I worked so hard these past four years,” Sanchez said.