Fresno State reverses course, opens door for in-person graduation

Less than a week of backlash from students, Fresno State has opened the door for possible in-person celebrations for Spring 2021 commencement.

Shortly after announcing that the 2021 Commencement ceremonies will be conducted in a fully virtual setting, Fresno State has opened the door for possible in-person celebrations. 

Last week, Interim University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval told students that the graduation ceremonies will have to be online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


One day after The Sun published a story of growing backlash from soon-to-be graduates over the decision, Jimenez-Sandoval and Associated Students, Inc. President Elizabeth Rocha Zuniga sent out a joint statement to students on Wednesday saying university is open to other options, depending on the course of the pandemic over the next few months. 

“With the development of the new state guidelines, we would consider exploring whether additional or alternative forms of ceremonies would be possible if the local COVID-related metrics were to change in the near future,” they said. 

Fresno State is asking students to fill out a survey (only open to students) “to help the university assess interest in a variety of commencement options and develop contingency plans.”

The survey closes on March 16. 

The university’s apparent change of heart after students supported a petition in protest of holding the commencement ceremonies in a virtual setting. 

As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition had over 2,100 signatures less than a week after it was created. 

Whatever medium the university decides to hold its May graduation ceremonies in, the Class of 2020 will be invited to join the Class of 2021 since there were no commencement ceremonies – in-person or virtual – held last year because of the pandemic.

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