‘Chaotic’: UC Berkeley community reacts to 2022 commencement

photo of commencement
Keegan Houser/Courtesy
Despite being the first in-person ceremony for the entire campus in three years, many students and attendees were displeased with the outcome of UC Berkeley's 2022 commencement.

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While the graduating class of 2022 was excited for commencement — the first in-person, campuswide ceremony in three years — some students and attendees were disappointed with how it turned out.

According to graduate Pavan Jariwala, it took a long time for seniors to enter the stadium because there were not enough security guards screening the students, and others were holding up the line as they waited for friends to arrive.

“It was mind-boggling to me that a place with some of the smartest engineers in the world could not figure out a faster way to seat its graduates,” said attending parent Aileen Nakamura. “I mean, 7,500 people is a lot of people, but it seemed like it could have been done better.”

Nakamura said her child was still in line to enter the stadium when the commencement had started.

While Nakamura said she was able to hear the speaker, her child told her they were not able to hear anything.

“If we are the ‘number one’ public university, why was commencement so disorganized?” Jariwala said. “It was so disheartening.”

Jariwala seconded that it was hard to hear the speakers. He believes it was a result of both students talking and the sound system not being strong enough.

Former staffer for The Daily Californian and graduate Tarunika Kapoor said she felt “underwhelmed” by the ceremony mainly because of how long she had to wait to be seated.

Kapoor added that many graduates walked around the field during the speeches.

“(The graduates) were so tired by the time they got seated that they were not listening to the speakers,” Nakamura said. “I felt really, really bad for the speakers because it seemed like they were completely being ignored.”

While Jariwala and Kapoor believed the commencement started late, campus spokesperson Elizabeth Costello said the timing was “comparable” to that of past years despite the increase in attendees.

Costello noted that due to the large number of attendees at the commencement, it was expected that people would talk through speeches. She said that it is difficult to “enforce quiet” in such a large audience.

“We constantly reevaluate and make the best logistical decisions we can while still prioritizing safety and considering graduate and guest experience,” Costello said in an email.

Nakamura said she was looking forward to her child’s departmental commencement because it would be “smaller” and “more intimate.”

However, Jariwala did not want to attend a departmental commencement because of  disappointment with the campuswide one.

“The experience of commencement was very underwhelming for me,” Jariwala said. “I am grateful that my graduating class was able to attend commencement in-person unlike the class of 2020, but at the same time it should have been organized better and what people had expected it to be.”

Similarly, Kapoor noted that the overall impression she received from guests was that the ceremony was “chaotic.”

Although Costello said this is one of the “most successful” commencement ceremonies, Kapoor said the event was “underwhelming” and “half-haphazard” given that it wasn’t what she had expected a UC Berkeley commencement to be like.

“For such a high-quality education and amazing school, it is really sad that this is the image that people are going to be left with,” Nakamura said. “I felt really bad for the students because it was supposed to be their day.”

Contact Dhoha Bareche at [email protected].