Thousands of UCSB seniors are preparing this week to take the plunge into that other realm known as the “real world.”

Approximately 5,900 students will graduate this year, with more than 4,000 of them participating in UCSB Commencement 2002. To graduate, students must have declared candidacy for a degree on RBT no later than the second week of Spring Quarter. Students must also make reservations for their commencement ceremony on RBT, but can petition to participate if they have not made their reservation already.

Public Events Director Gretchen Falvo said her staff is pulling everything together now in time for the big weekend.

“We’re having meetings with all of the people, facilities, safety people and campus departments who can help to evaluate what will make [commencement] better compared to last year,” she said. “All of these people are part of the planning. It requires the whole campus’ participation.”

Falvo said this year’s ceremonies will be handicapped-accessible and there will be limited shaded seating for people who are sensitive to the sun.

“We’ve tried to think of everything that would make it run smoothly,” she said.

Students in the College of Letters and Science and College of Engineering will take part in ceremonies June 15 and 16 on the Faculty Club Green. College of Creative Studies graduates will take part in their commencement ceremony on June 9 in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall. Ceremonies will be held for science and mathematics, social sciences I, College of Engineering, and environmental studies students on Saturday, June 15. Arts and humanities, social sciences II and graduate students will have their ceremonies on Sunday, June 16.

In addition to the regular commencement ceremonies, many students have opted to participate in alternative graduation ceremonies. There will be separate ceremonies for specific communities including Chicano/Latino, Filipino, black, lavender and alternative – for students involved in political, environmental and social causes, and who want to take part in a smaller, more intimate event.

Students interested in preventing drinking and driving during graduation weekend can participate in the 21st annual Safe Graduation, sponsored by Students Teaching Alcohol and Drug Responsibility (STAR). The goal of Safe Graduation is to get students to sign pledges stating that they will not drink and drive on graduation night.

“Our main concern is that people don’t drive under the influence,” STAR adviser Michael Takahara said. “Have fun, but don’t jeopardize the safety of yourself or anybody in the community.”

Safe Graduation will be held on May 30 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in Storke Plaza.