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85% in CSUN Poll Oppose Off-Campus Graduation

Times Staff Writer

Eighty-five percent of graduating students polled last week at Cal State Northridge oppose plans for this year’s graduation at the Hollywood Bowl, organizers of the student-run survey said Monday.

A majority of the 922 students who responded to the survey also said they want to take from four to nine guests, instead of the three guests tentatively allowed by the university, said poll organizer Anthony Ashhurst, an Associated Students graduate senator.

The university decided to hold the graduation in the bowl because the campus area normally used for the ceremony has been closed for construction. Administrators said they had to limit the number of guests to prevent overcrowding at the bowl, which holds 17,960 people and has parking for 3,500 cars.

In past ceremonies, about 65% of the eligible graduates have attended ceremonies, administrators said. About 4,650 degrees will be awarded at the May 26 graduation, university spokeswoman Ann Salisbury said.

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The survey, which consisted of six questions about students’ graduation preferences, was conducted Wednesday and Thursday by a committee of students opposed to the university’s graduation plans. The group was formed March 29 after a campus protest against the plans, which were announced Feb. 22.

Other survey findings include:

Fifty-nine percent of the students polled said they favor having two campus ceremonies--one in the morning and one in the afternoon--as a way to overcome the shortage of space on campus. Other votes were split evenly between having three ceremonies at the same time in different campus locations and holding a series of ceremonies over several days.

Seventy-one percent said they would buy tickets to help pay for campus ceremonies, with a majority of those students favoring ticket prices between $1 and $4.

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Ashhurst said those who responded to the student-run survey at two campus polling stations represent more than 15% of the 5,942 students eligible to graduate this spring.

To ensure that only graduating students voted, names of voters were matched against a list of students eligible to graduate, vote organizer Beth Lawrence said. Votes were taken at two centrally located campus polling stations, she said.

“We just really wanted to see how seniors felt about it and to show the administration” what students thought of the graduation plans, Lawrence said. “As far as we know, we were right. They don’t want it at the Hollywood Bowl, and they want to bring more family members and friends, and they want individual recognition.”

Seventy-seven percent of the voters said it was important to them to receive individual recognition, which in the past has been in the form of a handshake from CSUN President James W. Cleary. This year, however, individual recognition may not be possible because the bowl’s design prevents graduates from marching on stage to receive diplomas and shake Cleary’s hand, administrators said.

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Plans Unchanged

Dean of Students Edmund T. Peckham, who met with several of the vote organizers Monday, said the survey will not change this year’s graduation plans.

“The survey is a very helpful document, and I particularly appreciated the concern and care that some of our graduates have for our program, but the arrangements for the bowl have been made . . .,” Peckham said.

He said the survey will help administrators plan next year’s graduation.

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The university on Monday sent out a survey of its own to all graduating students, Peckham said. Results of the survey will help determine how many students plan to attend the ceremony and how many guests students want to take.

The questionnaires are to be returned by April 21. It also asks whether students and their families plan to drive to the bowl or take buses provided by the university, Peckham said.

If some students request fewer than three guest tickets, others could obtain more than three, Peckham said.


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