This article was edited on June 7 to correct the spelling of Comunidad Latinx Graduación and clarify that University administration reached out to CLG to consider Harder stadium for commencement ceremonies, not CLG reaching out to University administration.

The seven commencement ceremonies set to occur at the Recreation Center Fields have been relocated back to Lagoon Lawn, and ticket limits have been increased from six to 12 per student, according to a university email to the graduating class on June 6. The relocation — initially announced on June 3 — would have been the first time UCSB has changed the location of commencement in recent years. Several students expressed disdain with the University’s original decision to shift ceremony locations, which propelled the decision’s reversal.

The commencement location has been changed back to the lagoon lawn. Nexus file photo

“We appreciate the extensive feedback we have received from our campus community regarding Commencement. We know that the changes have resulted in some difficult choices for some students and their families, and we deeply apologize for the timing of these changes,” the email announcement read. 

The Graduate Division, the College of Letters & Science and the College of Engineering ceremonies on June 14-16 have all been moved back to the lagoon ceremony site. The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management and College of Creative Studies remain unaffected and will also occur at the original Lagoon Lawn location. The ceremony still imposes a ticketing system but has increased from a six-ticket to 12-ticket limit. Each ticket will now count for two guests, who must arrive together for admission.

The initial decision to relocate was made in response to “significant disruptions” across campuses nationwide, alongside concerns from students and family members over safety and security protocols, UCSB Media Relations Manager Kiki Reyes said in a statement to the Nexus. 

“The decision to move the location of commencement was extremely difficult. The campus goal is to celebrate our students’ achievements, which includes working to make sure that every student has the opportunity to walk across the graduation stage,” Reyes said before the decision was reversed. “To ensure the continuity of ceremonies and to enhance our safety protocols, the location for our larger ceremonies was moved to the Rec Cen fields for this year.”

On May 24, before the announcement, the University began laying plywood down for the commencement stage at Lagoon Lawn but halted the construction, several students told the Nexus. Comunidad Latinx Graduación (CLG) Co-Chair Stephanie Rodriguez said  university administration reached out to CLG on May 23 due to rumors of Harder Stadium, the CLG commencement ceremony location, being considered for the relocation. After meeting on May 28, the merger ended up not being feasible due to timings with set-up and tear-down, Rodriguez said. 

“Their biggest concern was making it a ticketed event,” Rodriguez said in an interview with the Nexus.

In an email about commencement on April 2, students were notified that “due to a large number of graduates, students are asked to limit their guest count to 6.” The statement did not explicitly express that guests should be capped at six but recommended the limit.

Many students expressed grievances over the relocation and ticketing decision, some organizing letters en masse to UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang urging for a return to initial plans. A petition to allow the 2024 graduating classroom to walk the lagoon lawn without ticket limits has garnered nearly 6,000 out of 7,500 signatories goal as of June 6. Another similar petition garnered 2,800 signatories. 

Some students resorted to selling and buying extra tickets to accommodate their guests, especially those who made bookings with flights and hotels sometimes months in advance. Comments on the petition note that their attending guests are not able to get refunds on these expenditures — for some costing upwards of $1,000.

“Originally, my partner [was] going to be graduating as well. And we originally [were] hoping that, you know, both of our families could see each one of our graduation[s]. So my parents would come down earlier and stay, and we would go watch that time of the graduation, but due to the ticket situation, we won’t really be able to do that anymore,” fourth-year physics and mathematics major Logan Joseph said of the initial decision in an interview with the Nexus. 

Before the June 6 decision, students expressed disappointment that the location they had looked forward to graduating, the Lagoon Lawn, also referred to as the Commencement Green, was relocated to the Recreation Center Fields. Many students in the class of 2024 were also high school seniors in 2020 — the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — and did not get to walk at their high school commencement.

“I think if the university seems so concerned about potential protest actions, they would be better served directing our attention towards actually working with students protesting and having open dialogues with those on strike rather than giving out what feels like a punitive action to those who they will be eminently asking for alumni donations from,” fourth-year history of public policy and law major Noah Ropp said in an interview with the Nexus.

Some students also resorted to asking cultural organizations hosting smaller ceremonies if they can walk there, as they do not impose ticket limits, Rodriguez said. Due to the influx of requests, many of these organizations were not able to accommodate the request, including CLG. 

The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available.

Dmitri Tran and Asumi Shuda contributed to reporting. 

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Lizzy Rager
Lizzy Rager (she/her) is the Assistant News Editor for the 2024-25 school year. She can be reached at lizzyrager@dailynexus.com