Sunday, May 16

UCLA to offer limited in-person procession for class of 2021 students

Undergraduate and graduate students of the class of 2021 will be able to sign up for an in-person commemoration in the spring, Chancellor Gene Block announced Tuesday. (Ashley Kenney/Assistant Photo editor)

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the Building Community Commencement group was advising the UCLA administration on commencement. In fact, the organization is called Building Community – The Commencement Group.

This post was updated April 17 at 1:04 p.m.

UCLA is planning to host in-person commemorations for the class of 2021 in the spring, Chancellor Gene Block announced Tuesday.

Graduates who sign up for the commemorations will have their names read aloud, have their photos taken and walk across an outdoor stage, Block said in a campuswide email Tuesday.

The commemorations will have limited capacities because of COVID-19-related restrictions, Block said. Friends and family members of the attendees will not be allowed to attend the ceremony, and students traveling from out of state will be required to quarantine for at least 10 days before attending, he added.

The commemorations will also only be available for students who graduate in 2021, though UCLA is planning to hold full graduation ceremonies for both the class of 2020 and class of 2021 when the state of the pandemic improves, Block said.

The commemorations are not planned to be a degree conferral or commencement ceremony and will instead be a celebration for graduating students, said Jonathan Wisner, a student representative on Building Community – The Commencement Group. The BCCG advises UCLA administration on commencement and includes two student representatives.

UCLA is also planning to hold a virtual ceremony for degree conferral, said Wisner, the Community Service commissioner and a fourth-year international development studies student.

The commemorations will take place over several days, starting June 11, the last day of spring quarter. Both undergraduate and graduate students can sign up.

UCLA will also livestream the ceremonies. Block did not specify where UCLA will hold the commemorations.

UCLA held graduation entirely remotely in 2020 because of COVID-19-related restrictions.

Matthew Pineda, a fourth-year linguistics and computer science student, felt a sense of relief at the long-awaited announcement. Pineda added that the news is a mixed bag of emotions for him – from happiness of being able to attend a celebration for his graduation to sadness that his family will not be able to attend.

“If I’m being selfish, I’m kind of bummed out,” Pineda said. “But if I’m thinking about this from a logistical sense, I kind of understand the challenge.”

Pineda, who transferred to UCLA in 2019, said he didn’t attend his high school graduation or his community college graduation, meaning the last time he attended a graduation event was his middle school graduation.

Felicity Gutierrez, a fourth-year psychology student, said she immediately told her parents when she got the news of an in-person graduation.

“They were really excited,” Gutierrez said. “But the first thing they asked me was, ‘Oh my gosh, can we go?’”

Gutierrez said seeing her graduate would have been important to her parents, who never went to college themselves.

“It’s kind of upsetting,” Gutierrez said. “But this at least gave me something to be excited for.”

Gutierrez said she didn’t go to her graduation at community college. At the time, she told her parents to attend her UCLA graduation instead. But now, her mother will be determined to crash the graduation anyways, she joked.

Gutierrez said she understands why the administration decided not to allow family and friends to attend. She said she felt grateful to have a graduation at all.

Gutierrez said she lost her grandfather to COVID-19 this year.

“I really wanted him to see me graduate,” she said.

Contributing reports by Justin Jung, Daily Bruin senior staff.

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Bernard Mendez

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