Daily 49er

CSULB students respond to commencement changes

Graduation rally prompts response from Provost.

Senior+Julia+Jaynes+speaks+out+at+the+graduation+commencement+rally+by+Speaker%E2%80%99s+Platform.+The+rally+was+organized+after+Jaynes+had+started+a+petition+to+bring+the+live+music+back+to+the+commencement+ceremony+had+garnered+almost+6%2C000+signatures+2%2F20.
Senior Julia Jaynes speaks out at the graduation commencement rally by Speaker’s Platform. The rally was organized after Jaynes had started a petition to bring the live music back to the commencement ceremony had garnered almost 6,000 signatures 2/20.

Senior Julia Jaynes speaks out at the graduation commencement rally by Speaker’s Platform. The rally was organized after Jaynes had started a petition to bring the live music back to the commencement ceremony had garnered almost 6,000 signatures 2/20.

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Senior Julia Jaynes speaks out at the graduation commencement rally by Speaker’s Platform. The rally was organized after Jaynes had started a petition to bring the live music back to the commencement ceremony had garnered almost 6,000 signatures 2/20.

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Less than two weeks after Cal State Long Beach officials announced that the venue for the 2018 commencement would be moved and music removed, students organized a picketing event.

A teary-eyed student projected her emotions into a megaphone Tuesday afternoon as eight fellow protesters stood beside her, displaying signs in solidarity. She described watching her father walk the commencement stage at CSULB some thirty years ago. She dreamt of walking the same stage one day, and now since the graduation venue will be moved to the intramural fields, that dream won’t be the same.

Julia Jaynes, a mathematical engineering senior, coordinated the rally that took place at the Speaker’s Platform adjacent to the University Bookstore. Although music was reinstated to the ceremony, the change in venue and lack of communication from administration fueled their frustration.

“I don’t want to have a story of a disaster graduation,” Jaynes said into the megaphone. “It’s not funny, Jane [Close Conoley], to speak of our graduation as being a disaster. That is not okay for administrators to joke around about something that is one of the most looked forward to events of a person’s time in university. We deserve better. We deserve to have the graduation ceremony we were promised.”

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er
Senior Julia Jaynes aims her megaphone towards Provost Brian Jersky. He had met the rally organizers by Brotman Hall to discuss the reason for their frustrations 2/20.

The rally was born out of the “Save Commencement at CSULB” Change.org petition that was posted Feb. 8. The petition received nearly 6,000 signatures. However, an equivalent turnout was not reflected as only nine students were present.

Participants carried signs and chanted “This is our declaration: we want to save our graduation!” as they marched from upper campus to Brotman Hall where they were met by the university’s Provost, Brian Jersky.

Protesters formed a semi-circle near the fountain where Jersky approached them. He quietly replied to some of their statements and addressed their concerns as they presented them. Many of the concerns were presented to him directly, while others were shouted through a megaphone.

Jersky remained calm despite the assertive demands. He could not be reached for comment in time for this article.

“Our staff is super committed to making graduation successful,” said Scott Apel, newly-appointed vice president of administration and finance. Apel waited at a short distance for Jersky to finish speaking to rally goers. He said the two of them were scheduled to attend an academic senate executive committee meeting at the time.

Despite administration’s attempts to quell their concerns, students protested, insisting that their voices were not being heard.

“It feels great to be heard and listened to, but clearly their decision is made,” said Jayde Bahrami, a senior majoring in environmental science and policy.

As Jersky exited, three students remained by the university fountain, discussing their thoughts on his comments. Erica Bauer-Reyes, a senior budget management major, expressed that she wished the protesters would have rather been met by President Jane Close Conoley.

“I wanted to put my two cents in,” Bauer-Reyes said. “It would have been nice to have President Conoley here. That is something I would have preferred, because we got the email from her, and she was the one who had some type of opinion or say. Especially when she said it would be a disaster or disaster graduation, those are just not things that you say. Is that really what you think of your students? And is that really what you want to send us off as?”

 

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