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Howard University’s graduation disrupted by planning and capacity management

Overcrowding at Howard University graduation ceremony leads to mid-ceremony cancellation
Howard University
Photo credit: / Joseph Hendrickson

At a recent Howard University graduation ceremony, a significant disruption occurred, leading to the event’s mid-ceremony cancellation. The incident has highlighted the importance of effective planning and capacity management during significant events.

Chaos leads to cancellation

During the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences’ commencement on May 9, the dean announced the cancellation due to chaos outside the venue. The disruption stemmed from overcrowding as the venue reached capacity, leaving many graduates’ families outside. The class of 2024 — the largest class in Howard’s history — contributed to the unexpected turnout.

Response to the incident

Dean Dr. Gina S. Brown cited the room’s size and the behavior of some attendees as factors, although the D.C. Fire Department denied shutting down the event. Videos captured the frustration of those excluded, with chants of “Let us in!” and a man breaking the entrance door in protest.

Howard University addressed the disturbance, stating that the program was disrupted, and guests were dispersed. Despite the rocky start to the 156th commencement weekend, the graduates were later able to walk the stage during the main ceremony, receiving acknowledgment from the university’s president.

Looking forward

This incident serves as a reminder of the critical need for proper event planning, especially for institutions with a significant cultural impact like Howard University. As the university continues to attract record numbers of applicants, managing such events’ logistics will remain a priority to honor the achievements of its students and their families.

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