USC will allow out-of-state guests to attend it’s graduation ceremony for the classes of 2020 and 2021 if they are fully vaccinated, the university announced April 13.
Due to California social distancing requirements, graduates are limited to two guests, excluding children under 2 years old. Socially distanced ceremonies will take place twice a day from May 14 through May 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC will inform graduates their exact graduation date by the third week of April.
“All ceremonies will combine wonderful elements of USC’s traditional main graduation ceremony with those of individual school and college ceremonies,” USC wrote on its website. “Graduates will have the opportunity to process across the stage, hear their name announced, receive their diploma covers, and have photos taken, while projected on the screens at the stadium.”
The bittersweet announcement brought mixed emotions to those who will be graduating.
Jack Johnson, a sound design major at the School of Dramatic Arts, is conflicted on which loved ones to invite to his graduation ceremony. “I have to choose between my seven immediate family members who get to come,” Johnson said. “It makes me feel extremely frustrated.”
Johnson is upset that one of his biggest accomplishments in life will be missed by people he wants there.
“I’m glad that they’re allowing people out of state to come who are vaccinated. But if they are vaccinated, they really pose no threat to the ceremony,” said Johnson. “I don’t understand what the difference between two vaccinated people and 10 vaccinated people is.”
Johnson expressed his understanding for the undertaking USC is taking to hold in person ceremonies, and is glad he can now have a couple family members to support him on his big day. However, he feels after being asked to pay “a quarter million dollars” for four years at the university, USC should “really put forth a better effort to get this done.”
“I’ve done a little bit of math and the ceremony should be about a thousand or fifteen hundred students,” said Johnson. ”If we’re in an 80,000 seat coliseum, I don’t understand why I have to choose between my family members.”
Mac Rogers, a senior in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program in SDA said he is “really grateful” that he’ll be able to walk, even if his mom won’t be able to attend. She lives in rural Montana, and Rogers says it is difficult to get vaccinated in her area.
Rogers wishes they knew about USC’s updated policy sooner, as it could’ve impacted who would be in attendance for his ceremony.
“There is a possibility that if she had known the policy for the vaccinated guests earlier that she would have made it a priority to get vaccinated earlier,” Rogers said.
All graduating students must register by April 15, even if they won’t be able to attend the ceremony. Students can register here.
For those unable to attend in-person, the commencement ceremonies will be broadcasted online, live, and on-demand for future viewing. USC announced that they are “building a new digital platform to host a memorable, feature-rich remote experience for all who participate.”