CSUSM’s commencement announcement brings graduates a cautious sense of optimism


Carolyn Cheng

The future of this year’s graduation celebrations are still up in the air, leaving students wondering if it will happen.

Tania Ortiz, Opinion Editor

As we reach the midpoint of our spring semester, seniors are getting ready for commencement buying caps and gowns, taking photos for announcements all while wondering whether it will happen this year. 

When the pandemic began, colleges all across the country had to cancel their commencement ceremonies, opting for virtual or drive-by ceremonies in compliance with COVID-19 health regulations.

Almost a year later, graduating students couldn’t help but wonder if a formal commencement ceremony will be possible this year. In a new video message sent to all students on Mar. 19, President Neufeldt announced that the university is planning to celebrate both class of 2021 and 2020. Neufeldt added that CSUSM is working hard on plans to host two options: a more traditional in-person commencement and the Graduates on Parade, and that both would also be livestreamed online.   

While this information brings a sense of hope for graduating students, details are still being finalized and the fate of the in-person ceremony still lies in the hands of public health officials. Remember that there is also a possibility that last year’s type of celebration may be repeated. 

Local government health orders may change by then and we can’t really predict what direction they’ll sway towards. There are many factors to consider, and the administration may have difficulty trying to figure out a way to have a socially distant ceremony that feels like a pre-pandemic graduation.

If all goes well, the class of 2020 and 2021 will get a commencement ceremony to celebrate their academic achievements.

 Not too far away from CSUSM, San Diego State is also planning to carry on with in-person commencement ceremonies for their graduates at an outdoor, off-campus venue and a drive-thru ceremony as a back-up. But just as I’ve mentioned, health orders may change and not permit an in-person ceremony and just like CSUSM, SDSU’s decision is not final yet

With the possibility of having in-person ceremonies, there is still a possibility that an outbreak of COVID cases can occur. Even with the vaccine rollout underway, colleges that decide to hold in-person commencement ceremonies are not immune to the ongoing pandemic, which is why it is important to plan these celebrations with that in mind. 

Last year, the class of 2020 could not have a proper commencement ceremony opting for a drive-thru celebration with the promise of having an in-person commencement in the future. 

We’re in the future now and fortunately 2020 graduates should finally be able to celebrate their achievements. It’s great to see that last year’s graduates, after not being able to have a commencement ceremony because of the pandemic, will have the opportunity to be celebrated. 

I’m happy to see the class of 2020 and 2021 will, hopefully, have an in-person commencement ceremony. All the students who’ve had to deal with the hard work of adjusting to online schooling in their final year of undergraduate studies deserves to be celebrated.