A group of graduating social sciences students turned their backs to the stage in protest during Chancellor Henry Yang's speech at one of UCSB's commencement ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, June 16. | Credit: Visionary Media
A group of graduating social sciences students turned their backs to the stage in protest during Chancellor Henry Yang’s speech at one of UCSB’s commencement ceremonies on Sunday afternoon, June 16. | Credit: Visionary Media

After weeks of uncertainty, UC Santa Barbara’s Class of 2024 celebrated its graduation across eight commencement ceremonies this past weekend. The UCSB administration had originally decided to move six of the eight ceremonies to the Recreation Center turf fields from the traditional location at the UCSB lagoon for security reasons. However, after extensive public opposition — including two online petitions that garnered over 9,000 signatures — the administration reverted back to the lagoon. 

Despite a tumultuous end to the school year — one that included a TA strike, pro-Palestine encampment, and police raid — graduating students walked across the stage they had been building up to for four years with loved ones and friends watching from the audience. This ceremony was all the more memorable for the class of 2024 considering many were unable to have a normal graduation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the afternoon social sciences ceremony on Sunday, June 16, a number of students stood up and turned their backs in the middle of Chancellor Henry Yang’s speech. While the students’ stance was not publicized, Chancellor Yang and the UCSB administration have been the target of undergraduate protests over the past academic year as a result of the university’s ties to military and defense companies. Just last week, on Monday, June 10, protesters occupied Girvetz Hall with demands for the UCSB administration to address the Israel-Hamas War as a “genocide” and disclose its investments and contracts with companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Gruman. 

Nevertheless, the ceremonies occurred with no major disruptions or security threats. After four years of hard work and determination, families, friends, and loved ones cheered as graduates celebrated their achievements and closed the door on this chapter of their lives.



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