Annenberg students petition for commencement changes

USC strategic public relations graduate student Anais Medina Diaz was upset when she found out last week that she could only invite four people to her satellite graduation ceremony. Her friends at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism felt the same.

Last year, the graduation ceremonies for the School of Communication and the School of Journalism were held in separate locations. Daily Trojan file photo.

“We all felt this sudden change was inconsiderate and insensitive to our cultures and families and friends,” Diaz said.

Diaz decided to take action. During spring break, she created a petition  addressed to Annenberg Dean Willow Bay and Annenberg’s Office of Communication and Marketing, urging the school to reconsider the invite limit.

Before spring break, Annenberg announced that the ceremonies for the School for Journalism and the School for Communication would be combined, as opposed to other years when the two held separate ceremonies. It had also announced that Annenberg students will only be able to invite four guests. 

“Most of us, I know in my cohort, have extended families and mentors that would love to see us graduate,” graduate student Brittany Stamoulis said. “Especially with our master degrees, it was very important for the most of us and a lot of us are first generation college students so that’s a big thing.”

The petition asks Bay and the Office of Communications and Marketing to either hold separate ceremonies, increase the ticket amount per student, open the reception to more guests, or have the ceremony take place at an open space on campus to avoid the ticket limit.

“Family members and friends have booked flights and hotel rooms to see this one special moment in their family’s history. Expenses that can not be refunded, cancelled or rearranged. Days off work that can not be repaid,” the petition read.

The petition said Annenberg failed to communicate the information properly and that the “process to making this decision should’ve been more open and transparent.”

“We are planning what we know will be an exceptional and memorable experience for our graduates as well as their families and friends,” Emily Cavalcanti, associate dean for communications and marketing, said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “We are finalizing the details of our satellite ceremony and are days away from sharing an update with our Annenberg community.”

The petition had 140 signatures at the time of publication. Diaz hopes that friends and family will be able to participate in the ceremony alongside to the graduating students.

“We understand why the school would want to combine and ticket the ceremony but feel this decision and announcement should’ve been made with more lead time,” Diaz said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “Additionally, the limited ticket number should be more inclusive of the culturally diverse students within the school who depend on the support and help from family members, friends and mentors.”