Caltech grads won't be able to physically walk up to get diploma, families can't sit on campus field

"It blows my mind, says Caltech student Nayla Abney in response to the school's graduation ceremony plans.

About 300 students will get to sit at the ceremony, while their families cheer them on virtually. According to the school's ceremony plans, family members -- even the parents who helped pay the tuition -- will not be allowed to sit in the stands.

While the students will be sitting about six feet apart for the ceremony, they will not be allowed to physically walk up to get their diploma. 

"Where does that make any sense?" say students' social media posts, complaining about the process.

The school is even offering to have "photo-taking spaces" for students, alone or in groups, but again, no actual walking to get a diploma on the stage.

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We asked from a comment from Caltech, whose media officials directed us to the school's statement.

A petition that calls for the school administrators to let the graduates walk to get their diplomas has garnered hundreds of signatures.

Parents are telling us that they are willing to give up being there, but not for their sons and daughters who left campus in March, to not get the closure of an actual diploma being handed to them.

"As it is," says one parent. "We are paying full tuition, and the kids are not even getting things like lab time, which should be in-person! And now this?!"

Nayla’s mother, Radiah Abney, is particularly upset to hear that other universities, like Fullerton, even the Pasadena high schools, are allowing in-person ceremonies, with walking included – even some visitors in Pasadena Unified’s case.

For comparison sake:

  • Cal State Fullerton is planning in-person commencement stage walks, where students will be allowed to have two guests escort them to get their diploma.
  • UCLA plans on stage "commemorations," where students who sign up will have their names announced, and walk across an outdoor stage to have a photo taken.
  • USC will have socially-distanced graduations for individual schools and colleges, and yes a walk on the stage.
  • Cal State Northridge plans for a fully-virtual commencement