UCSC returns to traditional-style commencement after ‘significant feedback’ about Slug Crossing 

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UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive announced Monday that the campus is returning to its old-style commencement ceremony after receiving feedback opposing the university’s Slug Crossing of the past several years.

UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Cynthia Larive announced on Monday that the campus is returning to a traditional-style commencement following three years of an alternative, trimmed-down ceremony called Slug Crossing. 

During Slug Crossing, the commencement ceremony was spread out over three days and lasted about 1½ hours for each college. Rather than sitting with fellow classmates from their residential college, graduates walked across the stage, took a photo and then congregated on the East Upper Field. 

“We have received significant feedback from our community and while our previous Slug Crossing format allowed for more guests for graduates, a front-row view for guests as graduates crossed the stage and could be sustainably supported on our campus, there were still many who preferred a traditional commencement format,” Larive said in the statement. 

Last year, students and college provosts – who serve as academic heads of each of the colleges – told Lookout they were disappointed in Slug Crossing and that the traditional ceremony carried more meaning. 

“The Slug Crossing ceremony was honestly embarrassing given the amount of money [and debt] students pay to attend this university,” said fourth-year student Akira Swan. “I will not be in Santa Cruz for my final spring quarter, and did not plan on attending graduation had it been Slug Crossing. Now that it is going to be a more traditional style ceremony I will most likely attend and have some family come out to see the campus to cheer me on.”

Porter College Provost Sean Keilen said he and his college counterparts were thrilled to receive the news Monday that the university is returning to its prior traditional ceremony starting this spring. Keilen also acts as the chair of the Council of Provosts. 

“I can say with absolute certainty that all of us are thrilled that the old-style, or traditional, commencement is coming back,” said Keilen. “And we’re very, very grateful that the chancellor listened to what we had to say and the arguments that we made about why we think that approach is good for students and good for their families.”

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All the provosts expressed their concern with Slug Crossing and said they wanted to return to the old-style ceremony during a meeting last fall with consultants hired by the university to review the commencement ceremony,  Keilen explained. 

While Slug Crossing was logistically helpful for families, Keilen said, it didn’t allow for students to sit together for their ceremony and collectively celebrate their academic achievements. 

“All college provosts are all small-college people at heart, or by experience as well as at heart,” he said. “And we really wanted the opportunity to gather the class all together in one place again, before we let them go.” 

As a first-generation college student, Swan said getting her degree “signifies breaking barriers and opening doors for future generations.” Her class, she added, endured years of pandemic-era disruptions that took away many traditional celebrations over the past several years.

“I believe it’s important for our achievements to be commemorated and acknowledged in a manner that reflects the significance of our journey,” she said. “Slug Crossing was not that and I feel bad for the students who were robbed of an actual celebration.”

In her Monday announcement, Larive said the university received input from campus stakeholders and she received a recommendation by the campus office of University Advancement (UA) to return to the old-style ceremony. University Advancement made the recommendation after getting a review from an “outside event advising and production company.”

“UA ultimately found that in the future, an off-campus venue will be the only way to accommodate the growing number of graduates and guests attending this important milestone,” she said, adding that UC Davis and UC Riverside made the transition to off-campus venues last year. 

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FOR THE RECORD: This story has been updated to include statements from a UCSC student.

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First appeared on lookout.co

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