University of La Verne officials announced late Wednesday that the University has shifted gears and is now planning to hold in-person graduation ceremonies in mid-to-late June at an off-campus venue to be determined.
The in-person commencement ceremonies will be in addition to “Grad Box Pick-Up Parades,” drive-thru events and the virtual graduation ceremony on May 29.
While a venue has not been finalized, officials are looking into outdoor venues close to La Verne’s main campus. The date of the in-person commencement ceremonies will depend on the venue.
Juan Regalado, chief student affairs officer, who sent the email announcement Wednesday, said that while details are still in the works: “We are optimistic that it will allow Spring 2021, Winter 2021, and Spring 2020 graduates to join classmates in having their names called, and walking across the graduation stage.”
The University wants to conduct three ceremonies for each graduating class. President Lieberman would attend each ceremony, Regalado said.
Before the Wednesday announcement to the community, which came by email at 8:14 p.m. from Regalado, students had planned a peaceful protest set for today on campus, to let University officials know that a solely online graduation was not OK with them.
Vanessa Acosta, Amairany Rivera, Bridget Hurtado, Erika Fuentes and Maria Robles, who are all first generation Latina graduate students within the educational counseling master’s program, had collaborated to create a petition calling for in-person – or at least hybrid commencement – as other Southern California public and private universities are doing.
In less than two weeks, the petition, shared via social media and word-of-mouth, gained over 1,500 signatures from graduating seniors, undergrads, alumni, faculty and staff. Signatures doubled when it was shared during the Spring 2021 Grad Finale meeting.
“It’s really for our entire graduating class, because everyone could have quit when this pandemic hit,” Acosta said. “But everyone kept going, with most of us being first generation students.”
Robles said in-person commencement is about more than walking across the stage.
“I’m a mom,” Robles said. “I would love to have my kids to see me walking the stage, proud of their mother who has achieved this. Not only am I serving as an example in my Latin community as a woman, but also for my kids,” Robles said.
“Our program taught us advocacy,” Acosta added. “And we wanted to set that example within ourselves.”
“We, as students, want to walk on stage, while taking the best safety guidelines,” Rivera said. “Whether parents are able to physically attend the graduation ceremony or stay in their cars, we want our parents to hear our names being announced and see us walk across the stage,” Rivera said.
During the virtual ceremony in May, each graduate will be recognized by having a slide with their picture, quote, name, and degree through the University’s PowerPoint, though their names will not be read aloud.
The University is also hosting two in-person drive-thru “Grad Box Pick-Up Parades” May 15 and May 23. Graduates will receive their graduation box and be able to take pictures with family and friends on a graduation stage during their scheduled time.
Regalado said the University will update graduates and the ULV community on the details of the in-person ceremonies as soon as they become available.
Jaydelle Herbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.