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Howard University Nursing Graduation Halted Amid Chaos As Angry Relatives Demand Entry

James King, MPA
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A graduation ceremony for nursing students at Howard University in Washington, D.C., ended abruptly on Thursday when angry family members who were barred from entering the filled-to-capacity auditorium chanted “Let us in!” and pounded on the glass doors doors even breaking at least one, leaving broken glass strewn across the entrance to the building. The disruption and chaos forced officials to cancel the event, leaving many graduates heartbroken.

The incident occurred at the Cramton Auditorium where loved ones of students in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences gathered to celebrate the graduates. However not all relatives made it inside before the doors were closed due to the venue reaching its 1,500-person capacity.

Video footage from outside the auditorium showed people yelling “Let us in! Let us in!” as the ceremony commenced. Some individuals even attempted to push past security to gain entry. A window was also broken during the commotion as frustrated family members pounded on the doors.

According to The Hilltop Dean Gina Spivey-Brown announced that the college had its largest graduating class in Howard’s history with 280 degrees awarded. The graduation website stated that Cramton was intended to accommodate about three or four guests per graduate but the event was not ticketed.

“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 told the crowd. Keynote speaker Dwain N. Esmond was asked to pause his speech as the situation unfolded.

Graduate Halle Ragoonanan expressed her disappointment at not being able to walk at the ceremony especially 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 echoed the sentiment 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 highlights the challenges of accommodating large crowds at graduation ceremonies and the emotional impact on students and their families when things don’t go as planned. Howard University has not yet released an official statement regarding the incident or any plans to reschedule the ceremony for the affected graduates.