Cameron Ingalls/Courtesy Photo

Naba Ahmed

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For graduating seniors, commencement is the last step before entering the real world. But to reach the finish line, seniors should be aware of what they need to do before the ceremony.

To make each commencement the best experience for Cal Poly students, parents and guests, the commencement team has outlined directions for parking, the departments and ceremonies.


Everyone knows that during commencement weekend, traffic can be a headache.

Commencement Administrative Coordinator Katie Stubberfield advised guests to enter on Highland Drive during commencement because students who live on campus will be moving out.

“It is not required for guests to enter on Highland, but it can take quite a bit of time if they enter on Grand, especially on Saturday with move-out traffic,” Stubberfield said. “We suggest people come in on Highland because it is closer to the main university-wide ceremony.”

As usual, University Police Department (UPD) will be regulating parking throughout commencement, Chief George Hughes said.

Cal Poly Commencement Office | Courtesy Photo
Cal Poly Commencement Office | Courtesy Photo

“The C-7 and H-2 lots are closed to general parking for guests with handicapped parking placards beginning 5 p.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday,” Hughes said. “We will have University Police personnel, parking staff and several student employees, CSOs, directing traffic at every intersection, making sure it all runs smoothly.”

Parking lots are made specifically available for guests, as no permits are required to park on campus during commencement. Such parking is available in lots H-2, A, B, C, H-12, H-14 and H-16.

“All parking is available except for the president’s distinguished area, which is on California,” Stubberfield said. “If guests need to get to California, they still must enter on Highland.”


The Disability Resource Center (DRC) aims to make accommodations for guests with disabilities for commencement weekend.

DRC assistant Montana Morrison spoke on behalf of her supervisor, Interim Assistant Director Vanessa Dominguez, about accessible seating and parking.

“They have accessible seating in three major areas in Spanos Stadium in addition to two of the closest parking lots available for the cars with handicapped placards,” Morrison said.

Accessible parking is available in Lot C-7 off of Highland Drive and Lot H-2, Morrison said. A disabled placard is required to park in these lots.

Guests with mobility impairments can be dropped off at a designated loading/unloading area on California Boulevard at the northwest corner of the stadium, as a shuttle service will be available through RideOn for guests who are physically impaired or disabled.

Shuttles run Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Morrison said.

Disabled guests can enter through the southwest corner of the stadium. Accessible seats are on the west and south side of the bleachers and on the field.

Wheelchairs will not be provided but will be available at certain shuttle stops, Morrison said.

“These wheelchairs are not on reserve; it’s first come, first served,” Morrison said. “Guests are encouraged to bring their own wheelchairs with them.”

Assembly with departments

Prior to the university-wide ceremonies, every student must meet with their departments at their assigned assembly site.

The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences will meet at the Agriculture Patio between buildings 10 and 22; The College of Architecture and Environmental Design will meet at Mott Lawn; the College of Liberal Arts will meet at the Recreation Center; the College of Engineering will meet at Dexter Lawn; the Orfalea College of Business will meet at the Breezeway in the Business Building; and the College of Science and Mathematics will meet at the Administration Lawn behind building 1.

Students must be at their assembly site one hour before their ceremony, Stubberfield said. Faculty will then lead all graduates to the stadium.

Commencement app

Similar to the app available to students during Week of Welcome (WOW), a main screen with a start button will begin the process. The commencement app will include information regarding assembly sites, keynote speakers and department events, Stubberfield said.

“It is really a basic guide to what you need to during the day when you are on campus,” Stubberfield said. “You can even click on which college you are and it will provide you with specific information on your college and department events.”

The app contains information about parking and shuttles as well, providing guests with a guide to any questions they may have about commencement.

There is even a map on there that will pinpoint all the different locations such as accessible parking, first aid and the different buildings.

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