A Sit Down with Seniors: Their Opinions on This Year’s “Car-mencement”

Sarah Rodriguez, Copy Editor

The graduating class of 2020 and 2021 are set to receive a Car-mencement in place of a traditional graduation ceremony; here’s how they really feel.

Since taking your first steps onto California State University, East Bay’s Hayward campus, you might have imagined what your college graduation would look like. Sitting shoulder to shoulder with the life-long friends you’ve gained, practically salivating over the thought of receiving your bachelor’s degree. That pit in your stomach, the perfect mix of excitement and fear, you know, the good type of fear. Your family in the stands, jumping with joy at the sound of your name.

Only your fantasy is just that- a fantasy. You find yourself face-to-face with the startling realization that, unfortunately, you’re a graduate on the heels of a worldwide pandemic.

The reality is this: we are living in unprecedented times, and universities across the country are scrambling for creative ways to host commencement ceremonies while still abiding by health regulations.

The Alameda County Health Department recently approved CSUEB’s plans to honor the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 with a “Car-mencement” ceremony in place of the traditional commencement.

The plan is to conduct a drive-thru ceremony where graduates will arrive on campus in their permitted vehicle during their designated time slot. They will be guided through a commencement route through Harder Road and onto the Hayward campus. Seniors will undergo a sequence of congratulatory events, name announcements, and professional photos in their graduation regalia at the moment of recognition.

The announcement of this year’s commencement has sparked a range of emotions throughout the senior community. The Pioneer reached out to hardworking seniors to get their honest opinions on the unprecedented method of this year’s graduation.

Senior and Staff Writer for The Pioneer, Mary Katreeb, said, “We are graduating right now, during a pandemic, and I want to celebrate it now in a safe way.” Regardless of the circumstances, some seniors expressed their gratitude that the university is offering an alternative commencement.

A few California State Universities are holding multiple in-person commencement ceremonies, including Chico, Stanislaus, and Long Beach, to honor their graduating classes of 2020 and 2021.

Sean Serrano, a member of the graduating class of 2021, said, “I think that it’s what’s best for now. Some CSUs don’t even have a Car-mencement, so I’m happy we even got this.” With a mix of CSUs sticking to virtual commencement ceremonies, some CSUEB students were grateful when news of a “Car-mencement” surfaced, but others are still wary of the potential health risks that remain.

Among the two graduating classes, there are also hints of skepticism in terms of the Car-mencement’s overall process. In a recent poll, a few seniors who wished to remain anonymous said, “The only way I can see a Car-mencement working is if it is very well planned, traffic and logistics-wise, and I don’t see that happening.”

Another senior replied, “People are still actively transmitting, receiving, and dying from Covid-19, so I don’t think there are any options at all to celebrate in person.”

Graduates who were anticipating an in-person ceremony were beyond disappointed.

Seniors Geremiah Lago and Dominique Boynton expressed their discontent on the matter. Initially surprised by the unique idea to host a Car-memcement as opposed to a Zoom ceremony, Boynton was quickly disappointed to hear other CSUs plan to host in-person ceremonies.

“After learning that other campuses were still doing regular graduations, I was a bit upset. I was sent home from the dorms after moving there and being uprooted from my home and missing out on a regular graduation knowing it was a possibility was like a double whammy,” said Boynton.

While Covid-19 vaccines continue to roll out and the number of cases continues to decrease in California, graduates are increasingly upset by their inability to experience an in-person ceremony. “I know CSUEB is trying their best to coordinate while sticking to California regulations, but I think we came to a point in the pandemic where we are able to have an in-person ceremony while being socially distanced,” said Lago.

As seniors wrap up their final semester, their frustration is evident in their responses. Reflecting on his freshman expectations, Delta Chi brother Alecs “Ajay” Formoso adds, “Everyone looks forward to graduation the first day they step foot onto campus. We’re not asking for all the bells and whistles, but a little more should’ve been put forward as an alternative.”
It’s nearly impossible in our current circumstances to ensure every student’s approval when making tough executive decisions. As far as future commencement ceremonies go, until our campus sees some normalcy again, we will continue to look forward to that special day when our graduation dreams will finally become a reality.