UCR is currently allowing for spring 2020 and 2021 graduates to participate in an in-person commencement ceremony if they so choose. However, in an effort to continue adhering to COVID-19 regulations, UCR has mandated that there is to be no guests allowed on campus during the graduation event.
After hearing many students expressing disappointment over the no guest policy, CHASS Senator Alyssa Marchan reported back to ASUCR and the Commencement Task Force members. In response, many rallied together and took the initiative to create surveys and draft legislation that would allow the Commencement Task Force to see tangible data concerning student sentiments over the graduation ceremony. “As an undergraduate representative on that task force, I knew I had to empower their voices through my efforts,” Marchan stated.
Marchan is confident that the new legislation, paired with continuous efforts from ASUCR graduating seniors and CTF members, will make all the difference. She stressed that it is not only the legislation that matters, as that exists only to provide concrete evidence that other colleges are allowing at least two guests to be present at their commencement ceremonies — the subsequent action is just as important. “The actions of adding signatures, gaining statistics through survey responses and listening to students’ accounts about the reason for guests is all the data that would help us get our point across during the Commencement Task Force meetings,” she explained, adding that this is especially important.
Sophia Pelayo, a fourth-year business economics major, initially expressed disappointment over the graduation restrictions, explaining how important it is that her Mexican immigrant parents see her graduate from a prestigious university. “Many of us are vaccinated, much like myself, and deserve for our families to see our greatest accomplishment,” she stated. Pelayo had not been planning to participate in the in-person ceremony, but this new graduation initiative has given her and her family new hope.
Another student, Shellsea Melara, a fourth-year liberal studies major, shared similar feelings of disappointment. “I feel really sad about how my last year turned out, but I will take what I can get and make the best out of it,” she stated. Melara had actually been planning on participating in the ceremony regardless of the guest restrictions, but she also expressed a renewed sense of excitement over the possibility of being able to bring and celebrate with her parents.
Marchan reiterated that this guest initiative is exceedingly important for any student, especially considering those who are first-generation college students or even the many who are learning remotely and must decide whether or not to travel and participate during the in-person ceremony. She is also personally affected by this situation, explaining that she would love for her own son to be able to see her walk the stage and receive recognition for the work that she has accomplished during her four years at UCR. “Commencement is about sharing that moment, your four years of hard work and accomplishments, with those who supported you through the entire journey,” Marchan concluded.