U of A grads complain about heat, overcrowding at ceremony

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A day of big crowds and hot temperatures left many University of Arizona students complaining about conditions at their graduation Saturday.

Some say U of A’s 150th Commencement Ceremony was marred by near-unbearable heat and overcrowding. Many of the 4,000 graduates took to social media to complain. They said there were long waits, little water, and some students reportedly passed out.

Graduates were supposed to arrive at the stadium at 5:30 p.m. for the 7:30 p.m. ceremony. But they had to wait in an outdoor area under the stadium, and then spent an hour and a half in a procession.

The temperature was 99 degrees at 5:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. Last year, the first time the University of Arizona held its spring graduation at the stadium in several years, the temperature topped off at 87 degrees. It was also held a week before this year’s event.

A university spokeswoman says about 4,000 graduates RSVP'd for the event. That's about 1,000 more students than RSVP'd for last year's ceremony.

There was said to be water and cups on hand at graduation, but it reportedly ran out.

At least a dozen people reportedly had to be treated for heat-related issues, and two or three were taken to the hospital, according to Sgt. Filbert Barrera, with the University of Arizona Police Department.

He said he gave out about six cases of water meant for officers from UAPD’s command post.