What to know about Sac State’s 2021-2022 commencement ceremony


Kris Hall

Kinesiology major Malia Tuitavuki sits at a dining table in front of the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento on Feb. 9. She will be graduating at the arena in May for the first in-person graduation commencement since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Kris Hall, Opinion Editor

Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen announced on Nov. 29 that Sac State will host its first in-person commencement in two years for fall 2021 and spring and summer 2022 graduates. The State Hornet spoke to Nelsen’s office and the commencement office at Sac State to answer questions about the announcement.

When and where is commencement being held?

Sac State’s 2022 commencement will be held in seven ceremonies from May 20 to May 22, at Golden 1 Center. This will be the first time commencement will be held at Golden 1 Center since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

Who is eligible to participate in the ceremony?

Only fall 2021 and spring and summer 2022 graduates will be able to participate in the graduation ceremony in May. Billingsley said that Sac State alumni who graduated earlier in the pandemic will not be eligible to attend this event.

Associated Students Inc. president Samantha Elizalde will be graduating this semester, and plans to participate in the ceremony.

“Graduates deserve to be celebrated in any way that is possible,” Elizalde said in an email.

Is commencement still planned to be in person?

Yes. According to Billingsley, even though the announcement was almost three months ago and classes in the beginning of the semester were virtual for two weeks due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, Sac State still plans to have an in-person commencement.

For 2021 graduates, Sac State held a “CARmencement”, which consisted of a parade of cars for graduates to drive through to get their diplomas. The 2020 commencement was held during the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown and was completely online.

Malia Tuitavuki, a kinesiology major at Sac State who will be graduating in May, said she is excited that commencement will be in person.

“‘CARmencement’ is not the same as the whole event because you don’t get to walk across the stage in front of an audience,” said Tuitavuki.

“We plan to move forward with in-person commencement,” Billingsley said on behalf of Nelsen. “We very much look forward to it.”

How many tickets will students receive?

Billingsley said students will receive six tickets to give to their friends and family, and there is no possibility of purchasing more tickets..

Sarah Billingsley, interim chief of staff to Sac State President Robert Nelsen met with the State Hornet over Zoom on Dec. 3 2021. She discussed the school’s plan for an in-person commencement with the State Hornet in May.

Sac State based the six ticket policy on the maximum capacity of Golden 1 Center, and plans to follow the guidelines the arena has in place in terms of safety and capacity..

“Whatever Golden 1 Center’s [COVID-19] safety guidelines are, we’ll definitely follow those.” Billingsley said.

What COVID-19 health and safety guidelines will be enforced?

Vjollca Rexhepi, an account manager with Golden 1 Center and the Sacramento Kings said that safety protocols for arena shows will be the same for Sac State’s commencement as it is for every other event .

“The current protocol is that everyone that is 2 and older needs to either show proof of a negative covid test taken 2 days prior to the date of the event or fully vaccinated status,” Rexhepi said in an email.

UPDATE 2/16: Golden 1 Center announced on Wednesday that all guests ages 2+ to wear a mask in the facility only if they are unvaccinated.

“Making sure everybody is vaccinated is a good call,” said Tuitavuki. “The testing part is concerning because the test is not always accurate.”

Does the university have a backup plan?

In the event that COVID-19 complications prevent Sac State from hosting an in-person commencement at Golden 1 Center, Billingsley said that Sac State hopes to use the Hornet Stadium as a backup venue, since it is outdoors.

“We definitely will have a plan B and probably a plan C and D,” Billingsley said. Billingsley did not mention any other backup plan besides hosting commencement at Hornet Stadium.

Elizalde said she wouldn’t mind graduating at Hornet Stadium.

“I know some students will appreciate it and some might not like the idea. At the end of the day, we can say we graduated college,” Elizalde said in an email. “In the time of [COVID-19], we have had to learn to adapt and shift when needed.”