Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NewsSportsArtsOpinionThe QuadPhotoVideoIllustrationsCartoonsGraphicsThe StackPRIMEEnterpriseInteractivesPodcastsBruinwalkClassifieds


Bruins in Paris

From class of 2020 to class of 2024, seniors reflect on graduation amid protest

Students line up to receive their diplomas at a previous UCLA commencement. This year, multiple universities across the country canceled their graduations in response to campus protests. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Sam Mulick

June 10, 2024 12:04 a.m.

When students had their high school graduations canceled in 2020, many hoped their senior year of college would go smoothly, culminating in the graduation they never had.

However, multiple universities canceled their graduation ceremonies after nationwide protests calling on universities to academically and financially divest from Israel and companies associated with it. Although UCLA has not announced any changes to commencement ceremonies, three members of the class of 2024 described some of the parallels between graduating high school in 2020 and college in 2024.

[Related: UCLA community organizes encampment in response to national call for escalation]

A.J. Moreno, a fourth-year sociology student, said he is excited to finally have a traditional graduation. He added that he had looked forward to his high school graduation – which was supposed to be in-person in 2020 – but never had the chance to walk the stage because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, Moreno said that people’s focus will not be on the status of graduation, but rather the protests of the last year.

“I don’t think that the history books are going to be focusing on all (the) poor kids that lost their graduation in 2020, … kids that lost their graduations in 2024,” he said. “The focus is going to be more on: What did people do to come together and stop an issue that they were passionate about?”

Students for Justice in Palestine and UC Divest Coalition at UCLA have recently hosted rallies and encampments to protest against the UC’s investment in companies tied to weapons manufacturing for the Israeli military, among other things.

Sanketh Santhosh, a fourth-year political science transfer student, said the uncertainty about the rest of the year’s academic activities reminded him of 2020, when he and his fellow high school seniors were similarly waiting to see if the rest of their academic year would be moved online.

“A lot of seniors, especially, wake up each day wondering if they’re going to get a notification from BruinAlert saying the rest of the year’s online,” he said.

A BruinAlert message May 1 announced that classes would move to remote instruction that day following the April 30 attack on the encampment.

As a first-generation student, Simran Singh said she and her family have looked forward to her college graduation. However, she said worrying about the status of a college graduation is a privilege.

Singh, a fourth-year political science student, added that graduation being canceled would not take away from anything she has achieved in college or will achieve in the future.

Losing the end of his time in high school pushed Moreno to socialize and involve himself more in college, he said, adding that current events have made him more aware of his privilege in the world.

“I’m not going to be crying over graduation being canceled when there’s people in the Middle East who are losing their lives,” he said.

Santhosh said he has learned the importance of not staying neutral during times of political injustice after graduating from both high school and college amid significant social movements.

“In 2020, we had the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer, and now four years later, protests over a genocide and … the student workers (striking),” he said. “One thing I’ve learned is that you really can’t afford to stay silent on things anymore.”

Santhosh added that he feels members of Generation Z have grown more nihilistic about their ability to affect change as a result of events such as university administrations’ responses to protests about the war in the Gaza Strip. At UCLA, administrators labeled the Palestine solidarity encampment as an unlawful gathering before the police swept the encampment.

“I think that we will look back and feel proud that we participated – but at the same time look back with some disappointment and frustration and anger at our institutions and our establishments,” Santhosh said.

Singh said she appreciates how her generation is politically involved and is proud of her peers for taking the opportunity to voice their opinions.

While Singh said she loves attending classes – some of which have been moved online – she takes solace in knowing that her peers are going through the same thing.

Moreno said experiencing numerous disruptions to their academic journey has strengthened the students in his graduating class.

“Me, as well as all my other peers – we’re in the same situation,” he said. “We’re resilient. We can break through any barrier that we face, and I’m super proud of everyone who’s graduated this quarter.”

Santhosh said the tumultuous events of the past four years have taught him that no matter what life throws his way, it is most important to stay true to his values. Even if he loses another graduation, he said he will be proud of having a story to tell and being a part of history.

“I am grateful to be a part of the class of 2020 and now the class of 2024, because I know for a fact that both senior years were during some pretty radical social change,” Santhosh said. “I’m proud to be able to say that I participated in both.”

Share this story:FacebookTwitterRedditEmail
Sam Mulick
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Mulick is a news contributor on the features and student life beat. He is also a third-year sociology student from northern New Jersey.
Featured Classifieds
Apartments to Share

LOOKING for a furnished room in a shared space? 2+1 home in the Inglewood/Westchester area 12 minutes from LMU – 15 minutes from the beach – 25 minutes from USC Rent- $1250/mo Utilities included Shared/Street parking Quiet neighborhood, clean household, move-in ready *Background check will be done by landlord *I am a 47yr old female, empty-nester who works hybrid as a General Manager for a local cigar lounge (all smoking outside) (661) 312-2276

More classifieds »
Related Posts