Postpone UCLA's 2020 Commencement Instead of Cancelling

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Due to the global challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of California, Los Angeles has suspended all in-person classes and events for the remainder of the quarter. Today, March 18th, they canceled Commencement via a tweet. We received follow up communication via email. 

On behalf of UCLA’s Centennial Class of 2020, we request that the June Commencement, departmental, and student-run ceremonies be postponed rather than canceled. This petition serves to bring attention to the alarming concerns from the student body.

Currently, the CDC recommends against large gatherings for the next 8 weeks, which would not impact UCLA’s 2020 June Commencement or any future dates following then. Universities similar to ours, including California State University Long Beach, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Michigan, have elected to postpone their commencement ceremonies instead of canceling them. We understand the difficult circumstances faced by universities across the country during this time of crisis and believe safety is the top priority. Students have already taken many steps, such as upholding social distancing recommendations and canceling their housing contracts. However, we believe that by postponing graduation, UCLA can continue to prioritize safety while still preserving this milestone event for ourselves, families, and the general community. After all, we are the Centennial Class. 

Furthermore, we believe that students should have been included in the decision-making process before the announcement of the cancellation. Many students have been preparing for these big days with their families and friends. For seniors, it has been a motivating goal that has kept many of us grounded and consistent with our academics. Even during final examinations, seniors have been struggling to balance academics with the health crisis we are facing to make sure we are still on track to graduate. 

Many student-initiated graduation ceremonies are also undoubtedly impacted by this announcement and student groups were also not consulted regarding this decision. Many students of color, who work to uplift the achievements of their peers, are utterly distraught by this announcement. Not only will underrepresented students not be able to celebrate their own individual achievements physically on the campus that we have devoted much of our time to cultivating, they will not have the opportunity to do it in community with the same people who helped them succeed. This is a huge disservice to the marginalized experiences that students of color have worked to overcome in spite of adversity and we urge the University to think again before showing students that their achievements are not worth celebrating.

In addition to this, the Class of 2020 was not given proper communication about this decision. All students, including the Undergraduate Students Association, were notified of the cancellation of our graduation via UCLA’s Twitter page. We expect more clarity, reasoning, and student input in this decision, as well as transparency on the use of our funds on this matter.

UCLA’s Centennial Class deserves more and our voices will be heard.