By Megan Perry
Hundreds of students sat on the field in Weingart Stadium to commemorate the end of the first chapter of their educational career at the graduation ceremony last week.
Family and friends filled the seating on the south side of the stadium anxiously awaiting their graduate to walk down the aisle and have their name called.
School officials who were given the opportunity to speak took their place on the stage, filling all but one seat.
Missing from the podium party was graduation speaker Gustavo Arellano.
Arellano was asked to be the commencement speaker earlier this year, to which he agreed.
As grads sat in their seats looking through the graduation program, they began to notice that sociology professor and MC Rin Kahla skipped over Arellano.
I was among these graduates.
“What’s going on? When is Gustavo going to speak?” I heard students and faculty murmur to each other during the ceremony.
They were excited to hear the “Ask a Mexican,” columnist from Orange County Weekly speak, but were only disappointed by his absence.
The next day, he wrote what he thought was an apology entitled “Why Gustavo Ditched His East Los Angeles College Commencement Speech (Hint: Because He’s A Big ‘Ole Pendejo)” in his column.
His excuse for missing the ceremony was that he didn’t realize it was happening on Tuesday.
He thought graduation took place on Thursday, which caused him to miss it all together.
In his column, he said he didn’t know the ceremony took place on Tuesday until he received an email from an ELAC administrator asking him where he was.
By then, he said it was too late.
He was working on a big project at work that he couldn’t leave in the middle of.
His apology wasn’t very sincere.
The tone of it sounded like an episode of “Family Matters,” in which loveable-nerd Steve Urkel comically asks, usually after messing something up, “Did I do that?”
The worst part of the so-called apology was the ending when he compares missing the speech was almost as embarrassing as “when I ripped the loudest possible fart imaginable during reading time,” according to his column.
How disrespectful to add a seventh-grade fart reference to the apology he was giving to graduates who anticipated his speech.
Arellano’s apology was more of a slap in the face to ELAC and its students than anything else.
Trying to use humor to downplay the situation only disrespects us graduates even more.
We worked hard to get to that graduation, yet Arellano didn’t seem to think it was important enough to double check the date on which he was to be featured in our ceremony.
Not all of the blame can be placed on Arellano though.
Did nobody think to call and confirm that the grad speaker was actually going to show up?
English Professor Patricia Godinez recommended this man to speak at our ceremony.
If Arellano was close enough to Godinez to be recommended to speak, why wasn’t he close enough to her to receive a reminder call on the date?
An entire committee put together the ceremony.
Did none of them think to give the guy a reminder call, text or a simple email the day before?
It all seems irresponsible and disrespectful to the students who worked hard to be there.
Arellano was right when he wrote that we deserve better.
We do. We deserve someone responsible enough to double check a date and a committee who is on top of the reminders to make sure the ceremony goes as planned.
We deserve better for all the hard work and commitment we put into ELAC. Plain and simple, we deserve someone who will show up.
Mr. Arellano, you didn’t make it to the ceremony and an apology was a good place to start, but you still owe us.
We’d at least like to see the speech and see what inspiring words you were going to give.
I’d like to see it published on your blog.
Next time, keep the farts out and sincerity in. Hopefully, there won’t be a next time.