COVID-19: UCSD to Host Virtual Commencement, In-Person Event to be Determined

This article was written with UCSD Guardian writer Niloufar Shahbandi, and is a part of our news series on the COVID-19 pandemic. For information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, click here.

The Spring 2020 Commencement ceremony will be held virtually as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an announcement made by Associated Students Senator Annika Manlutac during the April 29 AS Council meeting. The change comes shortly after the university announced that Fall Quarter 2020 courses would be offered both virtually and in-person.

According to Manlutac, the virtual event will be held on Saturday, June 13, 2020 at 9 a.m., and will feature a 30-minute livestream. This is the same day that the original in-person event was slated to take place.

Students who had previously registered for Commencement 2020 will receive refunds for any registration fees they have already paid. Likewise, a new registration form will be released later in the quarter for the virtual event. Students who had previously registered will have to do so again on this new form.

Later in the quarter, the university will release further information about placing orders for regalia, including caps and gowns.

Additionally, Manlutac stated that the 2020 Commencement Committee has not yet determined when an alternate, in-person event would be held.

“A postponed commencement ceremony is still in the works,” Manlutac stated in a follow-up with The UCSD Guardian. “It’s just that given the uncertainty of the current situation, they’re not able to establish a solid date.”

AS Financial Controller Ethan Christensen spoke with the UCSD Guardian after this article’s publication, expressing the intentions behind the Commencement decisions.

“I think it’s clear that campus is taking these actions to protect the health and safety of students and I think that’s a commendable effort,” Christensen said. “Obviously, this isn’t the situation any of us wanted to be in but it’s the situation we face nonetheless. It’s fair to be disappointed, I’m obviously disappointed, but none of my frustration is directed to campus. They’re doing the best they can with an incredibly difficult situation. I think by attempting a virtual commencement they’re doing the best they can to provide seniors with something like a graduation now, and the fact that they’re attempting to host an in person commencement at a later date is also positive.”

The June event was slated to have Bill Whitaker, an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for 60 Minutes, as the keynote speaker. The university confirmed that Whitaker will still address the student body during the virtual ceremony, according to an update sent out by the university at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.

UC San Diego is not the first University of California campus to have canceled or altered official graduation plans. As of the time of this article’s publication, UCLA and UC Davis have opted for a virtual ceremony, UC Irvine has canceled its commencement ceremony, and UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Merced have postponed their in-person ceremonies. No decisions have been made in regard to the commencement ceremonies for UC Santa Cruz.

The university is expected to make a formal announcement to the student body on this decision later today or tomorrow.

The UCSD Guardian has reached out to the university for comment, and will continue to monitor this story as it develops.

Photo courtesy of UC San Diego.

This article was updated at 1:58 p.m. to include a quote by AS Financial Controller Ethan Christensen.

This article was updated at 4 p.m. to include that the university has confirmed that the virtual ceremony will include a speech by Bill Whitaker.