Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Graduating students under duress following limited commencement tickets

Students participating in the College of Natural Sciences and the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences ceremonies are allowed only four guests each this year
Cade Belisle

On Feb. 22, graduating students at the University of Massachusetts were notified via email that there will be a limited number of guests for students participating in College of Natural Sciences (CNS) and the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (MCICS) senior ceremonies.

The CNS ceremony will take place at the Mullins Center while MCICS’ ceremony will take place on the Recreation Center’s upper courts. Each student will be allowed four guests whose tickets will automatically be deposited into their Mullins Center account.

According to University Analytics and Institutional Research, from September 2022 to May 2023, CNS awarded 1,915 undergraduate diplomas and MCICS awarded 524. These numbers increased in the last five years, with CNS awarding 1,727 bachelor’s degrees and MCICS awarding 266 degrees in 2019.

“With the ever-increasing size of our graduating class and limited space in our venues, two senior recognition ceremonies [CNS and MCICS] will require guest tickets,” an email from the Office of Community Relations & University Events read.

Following the announcement, many senior students took to social media to find additional tickets. Caroline Tran, a senior public health and microbiology double major, felt anxious as soon as she read the announcement.

“I wish there was a ‘ticket transfer’ option [automatically between students] since I can imagine not every CNS student will attend the ceremony,” Tran said. “It’s only fair their tickets go to someone else that needs it.”

Tran’s family was unable to pursue higher education both in Vietnam and the United States, due to the Vietnam War and language barriers. “As a first-generation student, it’s important for me to have these tickets so my family can see that their sacrifices have paid off,” she explained.

Tran added that she held some concern regarding technology use for her and her family.

“Since the tickets are digital, it’s been confusing as I get lost in all my emails and my family members are not very tech-friendly,” she said.

UMass spokesperson Edward Blaguszewski said that transfers are enabled to allow students to transfer tickets to their friends and family.

“Students will have access to an individual online account for the event using their UMass email address,” he said, referencing a mobile ticketing guide that provides additional information.

When Tran found out that the CNS ceremony was indoors at the Mullins Center, she became excited and invited her entire family to attend.

Despite her excitement, Tran wished that the University informed students about the decision sooner. “I had to let my family know and decide who would go to which ceremony,” she said. “Since everyone works full time, it can be hard to get a hold of them and for them to remember.”

Ana Moscoso Gonzales, a senior biochemistry & molecular biology and mathematics double major, expressed similar concerns to Tran. An international student from Peru, Gonzales had already booked tickets for her family to come to the University prior to the announcement.

She noted that students who she spoke with from previous years said they didn’t need to get tickets, which is why her family decided to fly out and support her. Gonzales has been “extremely stressed” with the situation, as she needs to find 10 additional tickets.

“It has put me in a difficult position to potentially choose among my family members for who gets to be [at] the ceremony, [which] feels impossible when people are spending thousands of dollars in flights and hotels to come here for me,” Gonzales said, who booked non-refundable flight tickets.

As the first person in her family to graduate from an American university, she has envisioned her family at commencement since her first year at UMass. “This has been a huge investment from my family and a tough journey for me,” Gonzales said. “My family and I are very proud of the accomplishment.”

Gonzales added, “My family booked tickets and hotels that are extremely expensive for people living outside of the U.S.; spending that much money and not being in the graduation ceremony is unthinkable.”

To mitigate these issues, Gonzalez strongly believes that the University should place the ceremony in a larger venue, given the number of students and guests attending.

Megan Wong, an out-of-state senior computer science major, alluded to the same idea for the MCICS ceremony.

Like Gonzales, Wong’s family already booked their tickets and hotels in advance. “Asking them not to come to commencement at all is out of the question,” she explained.

This is Wong’s first graduation ceremony since her high school ceremony was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It will take at least 15 hours for my family to come to Amherst, and this is excluding wait times at the airport. Knowing that they are putting in so much effort, I don’t want to have to tell them that they cannot attend the ceremony,” she said.

She wishes that the University created a streamlined process for students to purchase tickets from others. “I understand that tickets are limited due to the capacity of the venue; however, it would be much less stressful and time consuming for us if the University provided more assistance,” Wong explained.

Tran, Gonzales and Wong — in addition to many other senior students — have had little to no success with getting additional tickets. They’ve also reportedly had no assistance from the University.

This story will be updated as more information is made available. Commencement weekend this year will be from May 17-19, with the MCICS ceremony on May 18 and the CNS ceremony on May 19.

Mahidhar Sai Lakkavaram can be reached at [email protected] and on followed on X @Mahidhar_sl.

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