5,100 Graduate : Protest at CSUN Fails to Develop

Times Staff Writer

Members of three campus minority groups decided against staging a demonstration Friday during ceremonies at California State University, Northridge, in which nearly 5,100 students were graduated.

Gilbert Acuna, spokesman for the groups that had threatened to demonstrate because of what they called racially inspired cuts in funds for their organizations next year, said the protest was canceled because of talks with university President James W. Cleary.

According to Acuna, Cleary ordered the Associated Students, which made the fund decisions, to meet with the minority representatives several times over the summer, in part to promote "cross-cultural understanding."

"There is racial tension on campus," Acuna said, "but there's no reason to further provoke it."

At the graduation ceremony, students, about two-thirds of whom received baccalaureates, performed "human waves" before Cleary addressed the crowd. Cleary spoke of "a world of disarray into which you are about to be thrown."

Crowd of About 20,000

Officials estimated that about 20,000 people attended the two-hour ceremony, which for the first time included grandstands to seat parents and other relatives in front of Oviatt Library. Alcohol-related disturbances, which had been a problem at previous CSUN commencements, were kept to a minimum, campus police reported.

Four professors--Thomas Bader, history; Jose Hernandez, urban studies; Bonnie Karlin, child development, and Edward Pollock, biology--were honored with Distinguished Teaching Awards.

Midway through the commencement, a single-engine plane slowly circled above the graduates, flying a banner that read, "Ginny, will you marry me . . . Craig."

Moments later, another plane buzzed the audience, reportedly less than 100 feet above ground, turning on its side as campus police scurried to identify the aircraft. Police Chief Stanley Friedman said his force would investigate the incident, which many in the audience thought was a planned stunt.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
52°