On March 14, the University announced a change in venue for spring 2018 commencement, from Citizen’s Business Bank Arena to Campus West.
The announcement came via official email – as a done deal.
In response, Kassandra Yepez, senior business administration major, drafted a petition asking that student voices be heard regarding the decision. The conflict surrounding this change reveals a larger problem of transparency between ULV’s administration and its student body. In this case there was a lack of communications between commencement organizers and graduating students.
Students had expected that their graduation would take place at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena, as it had since 2012, only to be notified of the venue change halfway through their last semester of college. It is evident through the petition, to date signed by 600 students, that students’ main concern was that they felt blindsided by the decision.
The official email, from Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ruby Montaño-Cordova, explained that the University had always planned to bring commencement back to campus. However, in a recent interview, Montaño-Cordova told the Campus Times that she had considered other off-campus venues, such as the Fairplex and Ontario Convention Center for spring graduation as well.
The official message also indicated that CBBA had raised its price this year, which is probably what prompted the University to explore other venues in the first place. The University could have avoided student pushback – before it started – by bringing students into the conversation before the decision was made, through hosting open forums, or inviting student government representatives into the discussion early on.
Campus Safety, for example, hosted at least six open forums for students and faculty regarding safety equipment. The methods employed in the case of commencement would not have to be identical. They simply have to allow room for student voices without treating them as an afterthought.