Seniors react to graduation, offer up alternatives, suggestions

Paige Sanders and Taylor Love

California Lutheran University announced commencement for undergraduates will take place on Friday, May 12, 2023 at 8:30 a.m. in William Rolland Stadium, followed by the graduate ceremony at 2 p.m. Following the controversy surrounding last years 2022 ceremony, seniors have expressed their opinions about this year’s commencement. 

Senior film and television major Gabriella Arriola said in an instant message she thinks the planning could have been better.

“To have it on the Friday of finals week seems rushed because we are just finishing up our finals. I understand that they might have wanted it at an early time to avoid the heat,” Arriola said. “But I think it would be better to start around 10:00. Simply because it is going to take time for family members to come out here.”

Erika Weis, music major, said in an instant message she had mixed feelings about the day and time change of graduation as well, but while she would have to wake up super early or stay up all night, being out before the heat of the day would be nice.

“Honestly I like the idea of having graduation at 8:30, but just not on Friday. In my opinion, moving it to Saturday would make everything better. Still stressful, but better… At least it’ll be done earlier in the day so we can take a family trip to the beach or something,” Weis said. 

Emilee Fine, double majoring in criminal justice and communication, also believes graduation to be inconvenient.

“My parents and family may have work and I want them to be able to attend my graduation and see me walk… I wish the day and time was the same as last year,” Fine said. “We want all of our family members to be able to celebrate together and we just really don’t know if that will be able to happen, unfortunately, this year for us.”

Commencement is set to be held the Friday of finals week, which has historically been a day for makeup exams, should students miss one. Communication major Lainey Ranjo said in an instant message that she found it to be inconsiderate for graduation to be taking place the same day as some finals.

“Students shouldn’t have to stress if they’re able to make their own graduation ceremony or not because the school decided to schedule it on a day that students need to be available for their left over finals they need to take or make up,” Ranjo said.

Senior sociology major Kawika Austin has never had to do makeup exams, but thinks the change could put others at a disadvantage.

“Personally, I’m okay with it, I’ve never had a final exam on the Friday of any finals week in my time here, but for the seniors that might have one on May 12, it is pretty unfair,” Austin said in an instant message.

Austin also said that graduation being on a Friday makes it more difficult on his family. His father, who is a high school teacher, would have to take the day off in order to attend. 

Even though finals and graduation might overlap, Arriola said she believes that faculty will work with those graduating to find a schedule for makeup exams.

“I’m not too concerned because I feel like the professors will be aware that we (the seniors) have graduation on that day. Hopefully it won’t be an issue but then again you never know,” Arrioa said.

Trevor Harvey, senior sports management major, said in an instant message that his family would be attending graduation despite the timing of finals week, but admits it will be difficult.

“Focusing on finals with the excitement of graduation will be tough,” Harvey said. “The week after finals feels like a great time to have a graduation. This allows students to focus on finals during the week prior to graduation and allows the families time for travel.”

Weis, who is from Washington, also expressed the difficulty that graduation would place on family traveling. Weis said having to wake up early the following day would cause unnecessary exhaustion.  

“Having to be up and ready so early in the morning after a day of travel will probably be difficult for them but I think they will be okay with it,” Weis said.

Ranjo said that the whole situation can be stress-inducing. Both of her parents work, thus making it harder for them to attend. 

“I would feel terrible if students are stressed about finals interfering with graduation. That’s not how it should work at all. Graduation should be a celebration for students and an exciting time for them and their friends and family,” Ranjo said. “Not a time that could potentially be ruined because of the schedule being unforgiving towards students and their families and friends.” 

While many seniors have voiced their concerns, they have also offered alternatives or suggestions for the ceremony. Senior exercise science major Raylee Gennaro doesn’t think it makes sense for graduation to be on a Friday, and explains why a different day and time make more sense.

“Having the ceremony on a Saturday afternoon is better because students’ families and friends may have work and other major commitments on Friday and they would not be able to attend the ceremony on that day,” Gennaro said.

Arriola also said Saturday would be a better alternative for the ceremony.

“I feel like it would be better for a lot of people to have it on Saturday. That way finals are out of the way and it is less stressful for the students,” Arriola said.

While nothing has been confirmed, it is speculated that the reason graduation was moved to Friday was due to a lack of staffing for a Saturday ceremony.  The university’s official commencement page has the date listed as Friday, May 12 at 8:30 a.m. at time of publication.