Illustration by Darin Connolly

Graduation is a time students expect to celebrate their years of hard work with those who loved and supported them along the way. On Jan. 14, the office of Colleges, Housing and Educational Services announced a cap on the festivities by instating a ticketing system for attendees.

Starting with the class of 2019, each student will only be permitted six guests at their graduation, derailing many students’ plans to share the special day with friends and family.

The ticketing policy was met with an online outcry by students with large families and whose loved ones already made plans to attend the ceremony. There are posts seeking extra tickets from fellow graduates who will not use their allotted six across the Official Group of UC Santa Cruz Students Facebook page.

“As a first-gen student I always dreamed that I’d have all my loved ones with me on graduation day, a day that means so much more than watching it live streamed,” said fourth-year Eric Arauza in a Facebook post on the page. “For some of us, six is not even enough for our siblings and  grandparents.”

At past graduations, UCSC was extremely overcrowded. Last June, so many people showed up to graduations that the school was forced to livestream ceremonies in Classroom Units 1 and 2. Graduation guests were still turned away at the doors of the  classrooms.

In response to last year’s overcrowding, administration instated a ticket system. However, the details of the system are unclear online. The UCSC commencement website states that every student will receive six tickets and two parking passes.

Commencement policy varies between UC’s. UC Berkeley hosts a campuswide graduation where each student gets one complimentary ticket and are given the option to purchase more. UC Los Angeles graduates each get four tickets and can request up to two additional. UC Santa Barbara graduates by major divisions and there is no ticketing system.

Typically, UCSC department commencement ceremonies are held on Friday of graduation weekend. However, undergraduate college commencement ceremonies are now being held on Friday in addition to Saturday and Sunday in an effort to combat overcrowding. This change is causing some departments to cancel their graduation ceremonies.

Though the UCSC commencement page is not very clear on instructions, assistant director for College and Student Life Dani Baker said UCSC students will need tickets to attend graduation. The specifics on children’s tickets have not been decided.

Students on the Facebook page felt that not enough instructions were given in order for them to begin their  planning.

“It seems inconsiderate to hold such a celebration for UCSC students and not allow them to have their entire graduation party there,” said Julia Jen, graduating fourth-year. “Especially since the students are the ones who have attained the achievement of  graduating.”

Many students feel the ticketing system was the product of the UC’s over  admitting.

“The limitations for our graduation are a direct result of the overcrowding that has become an overall issue in the UC system,” said fifth-year Sara Kelley.

In 2018, UCSC admitted over 2,000 more students than it had in 2016. There was a 50 percent increase of enrollment across the UC’s after 2000, and campuses are still working to adapt. Dorm rooms are being converted from doubles to triples and from lounges to quads while class sizes continue to  grow.

Now, the increase is beginning to impact commencement. With the increase in students, UCSC is not equipped to handle an influx of visitors over one weekend, which led the university to instate the ticket limit. With class sizes growing larger each year, graduation will continue to be  impacted.

Dani Baker attributes the ticketing policy changes to keeping the campus accessible and safe. Last year, commencement brought over 40,000 people to campus and many were left sitting in traffic for hours and missed significant parts of the  ceremony.

“While we know the value of commencement and want students to be able to celebrate, our infrastructure cannot safely support the increase in the volume of people that commencement has brought to campus over the last few years,” Baker said in an email. “We did not take the decision to move to a ticketed commencement lightly. The decision was reached after exploring a multitude of options and extensive meetings with a number of stakeholders across campus.”

Sara Kelley said after putting so much time, effort and money into receiving a college degree, they want to make the most of this day created to recognize it.

“I’ve worked my ass off for five years so I can make my whole family proud and see them when I walk the stage,” Kelley said. “Not being able to have that is a huge  disappointment.”