University affirms commencement ceremonies delayed, not canceled

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cal Poly Pomona’s 2020 commencement ceremonies have been postponed for an indefinite period. The university confirms that commencement is not canceled but simply delayed.

The original plan was to delay commencement until December, but with the number of cases in California rising, the university has determined that this original time frame was unviable.

According to Cynthia Peters, senior media relations specialist for CPP, said there are several contingency plans for the eventual ceremony that the university could implement.

Peters said, “One possibility would be to hold ceremonies for the class of 2020 and the class of 2021 on two different weekends. We expect that both ceremonies will need to have reduced attendance and physical distancing to protect everyone’s personal health and safety.”

Other options are under consideration include additional venues, requiring tickets and adding more screens. Because this pandemic is such a unique situation, the university must consider unique solutions.

The current plan for the postponed 2020 commencement is to hold it in May 2021, although this is still subject to change and dependent on the containment of the pandemic. According to CPP’s website, graduating numbers in 2018 for a 4-year freshman was 30%, and 4-year transfers made up 80%. The university maintains the goal of increasing these numbers by an average of 5% by 2025.

Considering the change in plans, 6,501 Cal Poly Pomona graduates are left with an indefinitely delayed celebration in the traditional format, resulting in a variety of reactions.

Mariana Lopez, a 2020 graduate of communication, was one of many students feeling left out of the graduation tradition.

Graduates celebrate earning a degree even in a pandemic. (Courtesy of Mariana Lopez)

“I was definitely bummed to not be able to have commencement to celebrate the hard work that I have put in trying to get my degree, but of course I understand this was something out of everyone’s hands,” Lopez said, “I would definitely participate if they were to host a ceremony later this year because I feel like commencement is a great way to celebrate and close out that chapter.”

Lopez’s desire to still attend a commencement ceremony is certainly not out of the ordinary. Survey data provided by Esther Chou Tanaka from CPP’s Department of Strategic Communications 83% of students still prefer an in-person ceremony either in December of 2020 or May of 2021.  On the other hand, only 8.63% of the 3,005 students that responded to the survey would prefer a virtual commencement ceremony and only 9.16% said they did not want to participate in commencement.

Opinions of the ceremony’s delay extended beyond students. Sarah Wallin-Huff, a professor in the music department, described her feelings on the circumstances surrounding commencement.

Huff said, “And I’m also glad that CPP hasn’t canceled commencement entirely—I graduated from CPP in 2006 myself, and it was a wonderful event to participate in with my loved ones and friends. I think it was smart not to cancel the events, and to wait until later in the year when hopefully the virus is being better contained.”

Huff added, “Life always throws curveballs, ur ability to adapt and to care for each other is paramount.”





Corrections were made to this story at 5:30 p.m. on August 31.

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