On March 17, Cal Poly Pomona President Soraya M. Coley informed the university community in a campuswide email that the commencement scheduled for May 2020 would be postponed to ensure the safety of students and their guests due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Commencement will be rescheduled for a future date, but is not canceled.
The decision follows the March 11 campuswide email from President Coley, which noted CPP will follow social distancing recommendations and cancel all events with more than 100 people. However, as the pandemic progresses, all on-campus events have been postponed or canceled.
CPP’s commencement homepage lists an update that states, “We understand that commencement is an important part of the Cal Poly Pomona experience and we want to honor our students’ significant milestone. While the formal pomp and circumstance will not take place in May, we will work to create an experience that honors the commitment and sacrifice made by you and your family.”
With no date set for the future, the webpage only ensures students and families will have plenty of time to plan for the ceremony when a date is agreed upon.
Maribelle Gonzales, a fourth-year liberal arts student, is the first of 18 grandchildren expected to graduate in her family. Gonzales says her family is heartbroken as they will not be able to celebrate this milestone.
“Commencement was something I was definitely looking forward to. It’s the finish line to the long and hard journey you go through,” Gonzales said. “It’s something special that will forever leave a mark and to not have one, I feel, is extremely devastating and heartbreaking.”
Currently, Gonzales does not have alternative plans to celebrate and is just one of thousands of students who were expected to attend commencement this year. Gonzales, like all graduating seniors, will have to continue waiting to properly close this chapter of their lives until further announcements are made.
Prior to the March 17 commencement announcement, a petition was created by students with hopes of rescheduling the event and has over 300 documented signatures. Although the petition has yet to reach the goal of 500 signatures, students are relieved that the administration decided to postpone and not completely cancel the celebration.
Katherine Lopez, a fourth-year anthropology student, understands the reasoning for postponing commencement and appreciates the university’s safety-first approach.
“It being postponed, I can work with,” Lopez said. “They can have our ceremony at a later date just as long as they do not cancel it.”
Lopez has already planned a celebration in place of commencement that will be accompanied by her family and friends.
Casey Fleckenstein, a sixth-year anthropology student, has been lucky enough to experience commencement once before as her sister graduated in 2017. Although Fleckenstein may not get to attend her own originally scheduled commencement, she has decided to make the best of her situation.
“We are already planning a ‘front porch commencement,’ and we are going to set up our own commencement ceremony in our front yard,” Fleckenstein said. “My family will live stream it on Facebook for other friends and family to join in on the celebration.”
For more information regarding commencement updates, visit https://www.cpp.edu/commencement/index.shtml.
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