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USC announces last-minute graduation at LA Memorial Coliseum

In the wake of canceling its annual commencement ceremony amid ongoing pro-Palestinian demonstrations on campus, USC has announced a plan to host a new last-minute celebration event for graduates.

The event is being called the Trojan Family Graduate Celebration and will be held at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, May 9.

“We know many of you have had questions about why USC couldn’t use the Coliseum for our main stage ceremony. It was the first place we looked – unfortunately, it was fully booked. We also looked at many alternative arenas around Los Angeles – which on such short notice had similar issues,” the university wrote in a press release. “We have been able to host this event – and a couple of smaller events – because several groups adjusted their plans at the Coliseum to accommodate limited access for this special event.”

The event will feature drone shows, fireworks and surprise performances, according to the release. Students will be able to obtain up to six tickets. 

“I feel like I wanted that main ceremony. And also this new event is like so out of nowhere,” said Veronica Sierra, a graduating senior. “That ticket limit is for six people and I have a big family, so there’s no way.”

The celebration comes weeks after the university canceled the annual main commencement ceremony and valedictorian speech, citing unspecified security concerns.

The move has been criticized by students and faculty on both sides of the issue, as well as families hoping to attend the school’s main commencement, which invites graduating students from all colleges and typically features celebrity speeches.

It’s especially devastating to seniors who completed high school in 2020, most of them missing out on in-person high school commencement ceremonies. 

“I feel like they’re like punishing all of us with these tough decisions, especially knowing that the graduating class of 2024 was the same graduating class as 2020,” Sierra said.

Another graduating student, Jacqueline Garcia, is all set to finish up her master’s degree.

While she said she is more focused on attending her individual college’s commencement ceremony, which is still taking place, she wasn’t aware that the USC had added this new event.

“Right here on the email that we received, they give the excuse that, ‘Oh, we couldn’t find anything last minute.’ Yes, you can. It’s like, are you putting enough effort,“ Garcia asked. “For students like me that are getting their master’s, it’s more about getting the master’s, but there are other students that are getting their bachelor’s. They’re graduating for the first time. They really want to live this experience.”

NBC4 reached out to USC regarding the security for the event, specifically about the potential for protests.

In a statement, USC wrote: “There will be normal Coliseum security, like at a football game.” 

Sierra said she is not concerned about the possibility of protests.

“Honestly, like whatever is going to happen, like I feel like students are still like very vocal about their opinions,” she said. “So whatever happens, there’s going to be like some type of protest, whether it’s big or small.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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