Howard University Forced To Cancel Nursing Graduation Over Unruly Relatives

A graduation ceremony for nursing students at Howard University in Washington DC devolved into chaos on Thursday when angry family members who were unable to enter the at-capacity auditorium chanted “Let us in!” and pounded on doors even shattering a window. The disruption led officials to abruptly cancel the event leaving many graduates devastated.

The incident took place at the Cramton Auditorium where loved ones of students in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences assembled to honor the graduates. However not all relatives were able to secure a spot inside before the doors were shut due to the venue reaching its 1,500-person limit.

Video recordings from outside the auditorium captured people shouting “Let us in! Let us in!” as the ceremony got underway. Some individuals even tried to force their way past security personnel to gain entry. Amidst the commotion a window was broken as angry family members banged on the doors.

The Hilltop reported that Dean Gina Spivey-Brown declared the college had its largest graduating class in Howard’s history with 280 degrees conferred. The graduation website indicated that Cramton was meant to accommodate roughly three or four guests per graduate but tickets were not issued for the event.

“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” Spivey-Brown informed the audience. Keynote speaker Dwain N. Esmond was instructed to pause his speech as the situation escalated.

Graduate Halle Ragoonanan shared her disappointment at being unable to walk at the ceremony particularly since she also missed her high school graduation in 2020 due to the pandemic. “I didn’t even get to walk” she said. “I graduated magna cum laude and I didn’t even get to walk. I’m the class of 2020. I didn’t get to walk for my high school graduation and I didn’t get to walk for my college graduation.”

Kalysta Henderson a health sciences major from Riverside California shared the feeling of devastation. “I feel completely devastated I feel blindsided. I did not know it was going to be like this. My entire family flew out here” she said. “Howard is a very expensive school and I have paid for it myself out of pocket and through loans just to stay here… today has just been completely devastating and heartbreaking.”

The incident underscores the difficulties of managing large crowds at graduation ceremonies and the emotional toll on students and their families when expectations are not met. Howard University has not yet issued an official statement about the incident or any intentions to reschedule the ceremony for the impacted graduates.