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7 a.m. Graduation Irks CSUN Students

Times Staff Writer

Plans to hold Cal State Northridge’s spring graduation ceremony at 7 a.m. in the Hollywood Bowl have angered some of the school’s 4,650 graduating students, who complain they do not want to wake before dawn to receive their diplomas.

The students added that the Bowl--with 17,960 seats and 3,500 parking spaces--is too small to hold all the friends and relatives they want to invite to the ceremony.

University spokeswoman Ann Salisbury said that CSUN officials know they have to limit the number of invited guests. She said officials have not yet determined how many invitations to allow each student.

Administrators decided to stage the May 26 ceremony at the Bowl because construction has closed a grassy area in front of Oviatt Library, the school’s traditional commencement site, Salisbury said. The ceremony will probably return to campus next year, she said.

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Administrators agreed on the 7 a.m. start to avoid the heat that has plagued past ceremonies, which were held in the late morning or afternoon, she said.

But, in letters to the Daily Sundial, the campus newspaper, some students said they believe that the early ceremony is designed to discourage students from partying and drinking before graduation.

Three years ago, UCLA changed its graduation ceremony starting time from afternoon to 10 a.m. UCLA spokeswoman Karen Mack said that the earlier start has discouraged rowdiness and avoided afternoon heat.

Salisbury denied that the early starting time is designed to curtail drinking and rowdiness, which has been evident at recent CSUN graduations. But she said that students making that charge “are perceptive in noting that people who have been drinking the night before probably won’t get up that early.”

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She added that holding the event so early would be symbolic of new phases in their lives for the 3,900 graduating seniors and 750 students receiving master’s degrees.

Since CSUN officials unveiled their plans in February, more than two dozen letters opposing the decision have been received by the Sundial, said Valerie Kuklensky, managing editor. She said that only a few letters have supported the plan.

“I don’t think having it at 7 a.m. is anywhere near what graduation excitement should be,” said senior Stephanie Despard.

Despard said she may have to limit how many people she invites. “My brother is in the Army,” she said. “If he gets leave to go, he may still not be able to go to the ceremonies.”

In addition to her parents and her brother, Despard said, she plans to invite her boyfriend, aunt, uncle and several friends.

Salisbury said the university will try to accommodate as many relatives and friends as possible.

“I’m not saying they will be able to do that in every instance,” she said. “This is not the ideal situation. We would much prefer to have it on campus.”


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