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Monday, April 22, 2024

Students deserve a commencement that celebrates them, not a high-profile speaker

Commencement changes at UC Davis, lack of details leave students unprepared

Last May, UC Davis announced that undergraduate commencements would change starting Spring 2020. Instead of having seven smaller ceremonies divided according to college, about 7,500 students from 28 majors will now be mixed and split across three ceremonies taking place over the weekend of June 12 to 14. 

These larger ceremonies will be held at the UC Davis Health Stadium to accommodate more people, but the air-conditioned ARC Pavilion will still be used to live stream the commencements for those without tickets. As the new venue can only house about 10,000 guests with existing seating and bleachers, students will receive four tickets each compared to the seven given out in years prior. 

The three commencements will begin at 8 a.m. to avoid high summer temperatures and are expected to last until 10:30 a.m. On Oct. 1, three lists detailing which majors will be represented at what commencement were released. Other than this information, no further details have been revealed, such as if the names of graduating students will still be read, if students will be able to petition for more tickets or if students with multiple majors will be able to choose which major they walk with. 

For an event that many students have to plan months ahead for, the fact that decisions are still being finalized leaves soon-to-be graduates feeling frustrated and uneasy about a day they should be looking forward to. Students that planned to receive the usual seven tickets must now make a difficult decision regarding which family members will get to share in their spring celebration. 

UC Riverside’s class of 2020 faces similar unrest with their commencement as campus leadership is proposing to not only hold its commencement in a different city but also to not read the names of graduates during the event. Students should have a say in how they get to commemorate their accomplishments.

In response to the proposed changes announced during an ASUCR Senate meeting on Oct. 14, ASUCR President Julian Gonzalez began a petition arguing that commencement should embrace tradition. And while UC Davis students have been getting more formal updates compared to UCR students, there is still more we need to know about graduation. 

In deemphasizing specific college commencements, the university hopes to unify graduates under the UC Davis name as a whole. This is highlighted as a key reason for the consolidation of seven ceremonies into three, but it seems more like a marketing attempt to make UC Davis look more prestigious as larger crowds might attract more prominent speakers. But the celebrations are for students. A potential prominent speaker likely didn’t spend four years studying in Shields, caring about the campus community or growing as young adults in their time here.

Without more student input moving forward, the university risks alienating graduates who paid thousands of dollars in tuition, put in the time and effort to earn their degrees and helped maintain UC Davis’ status as a top public university. The Editorial Board, all members of which are graduating this spring, demands that the university prioritize its students accomplishments over its perceived public image and prestige.

Written by: The Editorial Board


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