UCLA rolls back on cancelling traditional graduation ceremonies, plans to include students in decision

UCLA officials rolled back their decision Thursday about cancelling traditional graduation ceremonies, after students expressed anger and circulated petitions online.

Although the university said Wednesday that they would replace in-person commencement with virtual ceremonies in an effort to curb spread of COVID-19, they retracted the decision Thursday, saying they would work with students to restart the conversation, according to a press release from UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

“We should have known the impact this decision would make, especially during this tense time, and we should have listened first,” Block wrote. “For this, I apologize.”

Wednesday’s initial announcement upset many graduating students, who began circulating petitions online urging university officials to reverse their decision.

“The conversation around commencement will begin again, and students will be at the table to share the responsibility they have been trained to assume,” Vice Chancellor Monroe Gorden said.

University officials will connect with student leadership, including the Undergraduate Students Association Council and Graduate Students Association, to make a decision together, Block said.

“In our zeal to think proactively and bear the burden of responsibility for the health and safety of our community, we failed to seek collaboration…” Gorden said. “Fortunately, UCLA’s students, parents and alumni are not afraid to hold us accountable and we heard you.”

It was not yet clear whether traditional ceremonies would be reinstated.

A UCLA student tested positive for coronavirus Tuesday, as did a staff member on Monday.

The chancellor himself is self quarantining after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.