Golden Eagles feel their wings are clipped with future parking lot graduation


Will Baker

Flyers posted all over campus raising awareness of the current commencement plans.

With less than 21 days until graduation, some Golden Eagles are feeling a little less than satisfied with the university’s decision to hold the graduation ceremonies in the parking lot.

CSU Long Beach will have Angel Stadium Parking Lot, CSU Northridge will have a picturesque lawn in front of its own university’s library, CSU Dominguez Hills will have Dignity Health Sports Park Stadium, and Cal State LA will have their ceremony in “Lot 5.”

Over the years Cal State LA has utilized the parking lots for many different uses. During the pandemic, the state utilized the space for vaccine clinics, and COVID-19 testing. While it may seem as though the graduation ceremony will be a new addition, Cal State LA has used parking lots for commencement in the past.

A petition with over 3,000 signatures, lists President William Covino’s salary, location of commencement and allocated tickets as all valid reasons to amend the current plan. 

“President Covino makes $545,571 in salary and benefits per year,” read the petition biography. “The Cal State LA 2022 graduation will be held in a campus parking lot. Aside from that, they’re only giving out four tickets per student, which is unfair since in past graduations they used to give up to 10 tickets per person. This has to change ASAP.”

Magdalena Arcienega, a student from Whitter, posted her reason for signing and has one of the most liked responses.

“We need more graduation tickets,” she wrote. “It is unfair that we pay this institution thousands of dollars for tuition to only get four tickets for family members. Do better, CSULA.”

First-generation graduates

Cal State LA has been designated as a First-generation Forward Institution for its commitment to improving the experiences and advancing the outcomes of first-generation college students.

According to Cal State LA’s website, more than half the current students are considered first-generation college students. To be a first-generation college student, one must have two parents who did not attend college.

Currently, Cal State LA has been asking its first-year students to join the pledge to graduate in four years, since the current graduation rate of four-year students sits right under 10%, whereas five and six-year graduation rates fall within the 40-60% range.

This “California Promise” is a bill intended to boost graduation rates amongst first-year and transfer students within a smaller time window, despite the numerous setbacks students may have experienced from the pandemic.

 A Better Venue

Prior to the pandemic, the university spent $875,000 on commencement. During the 2020 and 2021 ceremonies, the university spent $1.5 million. This year, $1.3 million will be spent on the ceremony due to inflation and rising costs.

Students were allowed to speak their minds about the graduation location during an executive meeting for ASI in April.

One of the first students to speak was Yesenia Gonzalez, who graduated in the fall of 2021. The 2022 commencement will be recognizing her psychology major and her Magna Cum Laude GPA she earned while at Cal State LA.

“Many graduating students, including myself, are disappointed that our commencement ceremony will be taking place in a parking lot,” Gonzalez said. “We deserve a large formal venue, such as our own track field, gym or even the Rose Bowl.” 

Gonzalez feels that “a proper ceremony is the least that we should be given.”  

Gonzalez argued that many students deserve a better venue to be recognized for all their hard work towards their education, especially for graduates with large families. 

After the ASI meeting, Gonzalez even said she would skip commencement and celebrate with family to focus on the importance of the momentous occasion if Cal State LA decides to not increase the number of tickets for each graduate. 

“I just feel like a lot of students feel disrespected by the parking lot graduation,” said Daniel Martinez, a sociology major.

Martinez felt that the Rose Bowl being a potential option for the commencement demonstrates that Cal State LA has the ability to do more but is choosing not to. He also felt even more disappointed when he heard LA Community College is hosting its ceremony at the Greek Theater.

Jaime Arellano, a graduate student studying American politics and new ASI president, expressed his distaste for where the graduation was going to be held this year.

“There are high schools in California that are doing way better than Cal State LA,” he said. “Covino said his mission was to enhance student life. They’re going to be in a parking lot. What does that say about our school?”

The University Times (UT) reached out to president William Covino for comment on these issues.

“I want the class of 2022 to enjoy commencement, and I’m confident they will,” Covino told the UT. “Each year, great effort goes into putting on commencement and giving our students a wonderful experience. We are doing the same this year.”