Fresno State Interim President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval announced Wednesday that the university will hold an in-person commencement for graduating seniors on May 14, 15 and 16 for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
According to the news release, the commencement ceremonies will be smaller than usual, allowing up to 1,400 graduates per ceremony. Jiménez-Sandoval said the ceremonies will be held in the morning and evening of each day at Bulldog Stadium.
As of April 1, per state guidelines, red tier counties will be able to host outdoor events at a maximum of 20% capacity.
Commencement will be aired through a livestream for those not able to attend the event, and students are asked to register early.
Students will be placed on the football field in Bulldog Stadium, and guests will have assigned seating in the stadium designated within pods. Graduates will not walk the stage. Instead, they will stand in place and be recognized over the stadium’s sound system. An image of each graduate will be displayed on the stadium screen.
The university currently has plans to host six ceremonies, which is based on the size of academic schools and colleges.
“We listened to the feedback from our graduating seniors and student leaders and together are designing an in-person Commencement celebration befitting of our deserving graduates,”Jiménez-Sandoval said. “This will be possible, provided that Fresno County remains in the red tier.”
This change to an in-person commencement comes several weeks after Interim President Jiménez-Sandoval announced on March 5 that commencement will be held virtually, which upset many Fresno State seniors.
On Wednesday, March 10, ASI hosted a virtual discussion in collaboration with campus administration which discussed the possibility of hosting an in-person commencement for graduating seniors.
Jiménez-Sandoval mentioned during the meeting that the university was considering possible alternatives to commencement, which included both the class of 2020 and 2021.
A petition, created by Fresno State student Victoria Melanson, generated a number of signatures in support of an in-person commencement ceremony. To date, the petition has 2,378 signatures.
Fresno State plans to follow state and local health guidelines during the ceremonies and will allow each graduate to have a maximum of four guests. Social distancing is said to be observed during ceremonies, and facial coverings will be required for both students and guests in attendance.
A number of guest speakers are said to be in attendance during the commencement, which includes Associated Students Inc. (ASI) President Elizabeth Rocha Zuñiga, Lynda Resnick of The Wonderful Company and Jiménez-Sandoval.
According to the university, students will not be required to pay a support fee for the event expenses, and those who have already paid will be credited $35.50. This credit also applies to the class of 2020 graduates who previously paid their expense fee.