University of Arizona apologizes for graduation conditions

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- University of Arizona officials are apologizing for heat-related problems during the Tucson school's May 17 outdoor graduation ceremony.

Thousands of graduates had to wait for hours in near-100-degree heat in Arizona Stadium where adequate water either wasn't available or visible to graduates during the evening commencement.

Paramedics treated at least eight graduates for dehydration and other conditions and several guests were taken to a hospital, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Kasey Urquidez said she's sorry for the shortcomings that drew numerous complaints. The entire commencement planning team feels terrible about what happened, she said.

The university is conducting a review but officials said they already plan or are considering changes related to water availability, waiting times and procession procedures.

"We will make sure this never, ever happens again," Urquidez said.

Kelli Dang of Chandler, whose son Jared Dang was among the graduates, questioned whether the university had become so focused on creating a glitzy graduation event that it neglected basic health and safety.

"I would rather have seen more water and less fireworks," she said.

Urquidez said her team is still learning how to cope with much larger crowds since commencement was moved to the football stadium last year.

Those who work on graduation planning care deeply about students and are determined to get things right next year, she said.

U of A grads complain about heat, overcrowding at ceremony