UC Davis cultural centers cancel in-person graduation celebrations

UC Davis cultural centers cancel in-person graduation celebrations

Photo Credits: Spring Quarter 2020 commencement will be offered virtually, although UC Davis may is planning to offer an in-person commencement later in the year (UC Davis / Courtesy)

Students reflect on what cultural graduations mean to them

Cultural centers on campus canceled in-personal cultural graduation celebrations in response to the state’s stay-at-home directive and Chancellor Gary May’s announcement of a virtual commencement ceremony for those graduating this spring. Centers will consider alternative, virtual ways to celebrate graduating students in June.

The LGBTQIA Resource Center, the Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success (CCLASS), the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and the Center for African Diaspora Student Success are some of the centers that hold annual graduation celebrations for members of their community. 

These celebrations allow participating students to have the option of taking part in a ceremony that is more private than the larger UC Davis commencement, with friends and family members, that honors their achievements. 

The LGBTQIA Resource Center is one center that made the decision to cancel their in-person Lavender Graduation ceremony. Monae Roberts, the director of the LGBTQIA Resource Center, commented on the center’s decision.

“Our decision to cancel the in-person Lavender Graduation was a difficult one,” Roberts said. “However, given the current pandemic, we felt it best to be cautious for the safety of our most vulnerable populations.” 

Although the in-person ceremony has been canceled, according to Roberts, center leadership is in the process of planning a virtual celebration for students to take part in.

On April 7, Cirilo Cortez, the director of CCLASS, decided to cancel the center’s graduation celebration. Cortez responded to students’ disappointment via email. 

“I know this can be difficult news to digest and I do want to offer myself for support if you need it,” Cortez said via email. 

Like other centers, CCLASS is looking to students for suggestions for alternative ways to celebrate. During the ongoing pandemic, any graduation ceremony would present a clear, public health hazard, but for many students, the feeling of disappointment remains.

Emily Mijangos, a fourth-year international relations major, will be the first person in her family to graduate college. Mijangos shared her experience with the CCLASS graduation ceremony and what the decision to cancel the celebration meant for her.

“You have to understand that in the Latinx graduation, you are able to bring a family member to the stage with you,” Mijangos said.

Mijangos recalled attending last year’s ceremony. A friend of hers brought his father to the stage and proceeded to remove his own graduation stole and place it around his father’s shoulders.

“Not only did my friend graduate, his family gained its first college graduate,” Mijangos said. “Through the hard work of his father and the hard mental work of my friend, their struggles finally paid off with this specific moment. I wanted to bring that honor to my family.”

Mijangos planned to invite her grandmother, the matriarch of her large family, on stage with her in June. 

“I pictured a horde of family members and students within the pavilion celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2020,” Mijangos said. “I did not predict being confined within my house during my graduation. It’s like I am losing a bit of that magic that you feel when going through that experience. Hopefully our class can, sooner or later, get the ceremony that we deserve.”

Written by: Ally Russell — campus@theaggie.org