Howard University Graduation Ceremony Cancelled Amid Chaos and Injuries

Howard University's College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences graduation ceremony was cancelled mid-keynote speech due to capacity limits and chaos. Family members and relatives were locked out, leading to frustration, injuries, and a broken glass door.

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Howard University Graduation Ceremony Cancelled Amid Chaos and Injuries

Howard University Graduation Ceremony Cancelled Amid Chaos and Injuries

On Thursday, May 9, 2024, the graduation ceremony for Howard University's College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences was abruptly cancelled at Washington, D.C.'s Cramton Auditorium due to capacity limits and subsequent chaos. Family members and relatives of graduating students were locked out of the auditorium after it reached maximum capacity, leading to frustration and anger.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the need for universities to reassess theirevent planning and crowd control measures to ensure the safety and well-being of attendees. It also underscores the importance of effective communication and contingency planning to prevent such disruptions, which can have a lasting impact on the university's reputation and the students' celebratory experience.

Dozens of people chanted "Let us in!" and tried to force their way past security guards, resulting in a broken glass door and injuries. "While they were doing the keynote speaker, there was, like, loud banging, even before that, for like 10 minutes straight," said graduate Bria Flowers. The ceremony was halted mid-keynote speech, with Dean Dr. Gina S. Brown announcing that the fire department had arrived to shut down the event.

However, the D.C. Fire and EMS department denied shutting down the graduation, stating they only responded to a medical call and departed after evaluating the patient. "Because of the size of the room and because our relatives sometimes do not know how to act, the fire department is now here to shut us down," Brown told the audience.

At least one student was injured, with glass fragment cuts on their hands. The ceremony was cancelled, and guests were dispersed. Individual awards were given to affected students on Friday, and some students were able to participate in the university's main commencement ceremony on Saturday.

The Cramton Auditorium ceremony had a capacity limit of 3-4 attendees per graduate, seated on a first-come basis, and tickets were not required. A university statement said a visitor unintentionally broke a pane of glass on the front door after leaning on it, leading to the disturbance. The overcrowding "significantly impacted the guest experience."

Howard University announced it would formally recognize the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences graduates at the Capital One Arena on Saturday, May 11, following the Commencement Convocation. A similar capacity issue occurred during the College of Engineering and Architecture ceremony on Friday, with people left out in the rain. The university spokesperson noted that while capacity issues have not been a problem in the past, this year was unique due to having the largest graduating class ever and students drawing larger crowds after missing high school graduations in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Key Takeaways

  • Howard University's nursing graduation ceremony was cancelled due to capacity limits.
  • Family members and relatives were locked out, leading to frustration and chaos.
  • Dozens of people tried to force their way in, resulting in a broken glass door and injuries.
  • The ceremony was halted mid-keynote speech, with individual awards given to students on Friday.
  • A similar capacity issue occurred during the College of Engineering and Architecture ceremony.