Commencement exercises will happen, but with a new, modified look for 2020-21. Photo courtesy of CSUDH Smugmug.
By Daniel Tom, Contributing Reporter
The pomp and circumstance of walking in front of cheering friends and families and clutching that hard-earned diploma is going to have a lot less pomp and circumstance for California State University, Dominguez Hills students in May.
In late January, CSUDH announced plans to conduct hybrid ceremonies in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ceremonies for the classes of 2020 and 2021 will be conducted starting May 24-27, but without an audience present.
And instead of commencement taking place in the 27,000-seat Dignity Health Sports Park, it will take place just outside, in parking lot 6, with seating that will allow for proper social distancing among graduates and faculty present.
However, if COVID-19 cases see a significant spike before late May, the university could exercise the option to conduct ceremonies completely virtual.
In December, California State University, Long Beach announced their plans to host a hybrid commencement ceremony, featuring a car parade for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
This announcement is a bit of positive light at the end of the tunnel for the campus community after graduation ceremonies were canceled across the Cal State system last spring as the coronavirus began to wreak havoc.
Last year’s graduating class had no commencement. After the campus shutdown in March, graduating seniors were asked in a poll if they would prefer a virtual celebration in May or a belated in-person ceremony in December. An overwhelming majority of students voted for the latter, CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham said in a November meeting with students, the winter spike in COVID-19 cases ceased those plans. Instead, the class of 2020 will join the class of 2021 in a hybrid ceremony.
Some students have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to have a ceremony this spring.
“As a first-generation college grad, if they see me walk across some kind of stage, I know they would be proud,” said America Alarcon, criminal justice major (‘20). She adds, “I am currently turning the page and am about to start a job in the field I graduated in at DH. A hybrid ceremony would not be essential but appreciated.”
However, others like Veronica G., a psychology major (‘20), who was supposed to walk the stage last year, wishes there were other ways to involve the graduates’ families.
“I’m the first one to graduate in my family, it sucks they can’t witness this milestone,” she said. She then offers a suggestion to the administration, “Can [family] park in the parking lot and honk for us?”
And then there are students like Julliana Farillas.
“I think I have come to terms with what our new reality is,” Farillas said. “But, I also know that DH has the best commencement and event planning staff and they are doing everything they can to give us a day to remember.”