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Rutgers University Cancels Commencement While Planning For Spring Football Game, Leaving Seniors 'Devastated'

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Rutgers University is canceling commencement, and the announcement is controversial because there are still plans for a spring football game this month.

College Avenue is quieter than usual with few students on campus due to a year of virtual learning…

"When I found out fall was online, I was like devastated. But I was like no, we are a big school, we need to take care of everyone, it makes sense," senior Samuel Almodovar said.

Then graduation was canceled and Almodovar felt defeated.

"I'm first generation. I'm the oldest in my family to graduate. I don't know, being Latino, it's not that common to get a degree," he said.

No one from Rutgers would go on camera, but a spokesperson says even with the state lifting outdoor gatherings limits, "the logistics and planning required for commencement ceremonies that host more than 19,500 graduating students as well as their families friends, and staff" would take months.

Yet Rutgers will host a spring football game on May 20 with 5,000 people.

Students and parents who spoke to CBS2's Meg Baker say they feel like the school is prioritizing sports over academics.

"The fact that they're willing to have the football game, and they're able to make concessions for that, that's really hurtful," said Cyanna Padmore, a biology major.


Others question why several smaller ceremonies could not be coordinated.

"We're all really devastated with this outcome just because, as a graduating senior, this is something that you work for years towards," said Sophia Vitone, a kinesiology major.

"Is it a matter of they didn't want to spend the money? Considering the fact that, you know, our children had no break financially where other schools had gotten a financial break for the fact that they were completely remote," parent Teresa Vitone said.

Students started a petition asking Rutgers' president to change his mind. A spokesperson says the university is committed to providing in-person events for both the class of 2020 and 2021 at a later date.

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