Graduating UC San Diego students have created a petition that asks for refunds for students whose graduation regalia arrived after the virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 13. This comes after UCSD sent an email out to graduating students on May 14 claiming that Jostens, the memorabilia manufacturer contracted by the university to supply graduation regalia, would be able to fulfill student orders received by May 15 in time for the ceremony.
The Change.org petition begins by referencing how the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn has created barriers for the Class of 2020 to celebrate their college graduation.
“For many of us, the ability to wear our graduation regalia on our graduation day sitting in our living rooms on Zoom was something to look forward to,” the petition states. “Despite it all, at least we could take graduation pictures on our big day and try to make the occasion [meaningful] in a different way. Essentially, we were trying to make the best of what we had.”
The petition goes on to explain that the shipping delay has prevented students from doing that. The request concludes with a call to action from Jostens and UCSD to issue refunds to students.
Petition organizer and former Guardian Opinion Editor Geena Roberts said that while she hopes that Jostens would agree to at least a partial refund, it does not fix the fact that students were not able to properly celebrate their graduation.
“Many of us and our families are financially struggling because of the pandemic and yet still purchased [graduation regalia] because of the importance of wearing it on the day of [the graduation commencement],” Roberts said. “[Jostens] should have been much more transparent and [UCSD administration] should step in on behalf of graduates because they are the one that chose to contract with Jostens.”
Roberts said that she personally never received any notice from Jostens informing her that the graduation gear would be arriving late. She claimed that her UPS shipping portal was updated at 6 p.m. PST on June 12 to indicate that the graduation gear would not be arriving on that day and would now be arriving on Monday, June 15.
“A good friend of mine, who is [a first generation college student], and another friend of mine, [a resident’s assistant coworker], also both had this problem despite Jostens’s promises,” Roberts said. “I realized [that the delays were] a larger issue than just me and someone needed to do something.”
Jostens confirmed in an email on Thursday, June 11, that many students would not be receiving their shipments until after their graduation.
“On behalf of our Jostens team, I want to apologize for the delay in the arrival of your graduation regalia,” Jostens Sales Representative Sandra Ochoa wrote in the email. “Despite our best efforts during these challenging times, and faced with unforeseen shipping challenges, [the graduation] regalia was shipped with what [Jostens] thought was enough time to deliver by [Friday, June 12], yet it has come to our attention that it will not be arriving until early next week.”
Ochoa added that “no excuses or explanation could alleviate the disappointment [graduating students] must be feeling.” The email also notes that Jostens is working with university officials and the UCSD Bookstore to prioritize customer service and concludes with an invitation for graduating students to contact Ochoa directly to resolve any issues that may arise.
In a separate email to Roberts, Ochoa apologized again for the delay in the shipment of the graduation regalia. She added that a message is being put together to inform graduates that Jostens intends to issue a full refund to those who ordered their regalia by the advertised May 15th deadline and did not receive it in time for the commencement ceremony.
UCSD’s virtual commencement ceremony began at 9 a.m. PST on Saturday, June 13. At the time of publication, the refund petition has over 250 signatures.
This article was updated to reflect Jostens’s plan to issue a full refund to graduating UCSD students whose graduation regalia did not arrive on time.
Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Commencement 2020.