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Video captures chaos at Howard U nursing graduation ceremony after venue reaches max capacity


An auditorium was too small for the number of supporters who showed up for graduates of a D.C. historically black college, and video captured the chaos that left one person hurt.

Howard University’s College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences honors and awards ceremony took place Thursday in the campus’ Cramton Auditorium. The school’s website said tickets were not required for the event, and the space could “accommodate an estimated 3-4 attendees per graduate,” with guests seated on a “first-come basis.”

Video posted on social media showed family and friends of graduates in the building’s foyer shouting “let us in” before the ceremony ended abruptly.

“During the ceremony, a visitor who was not able to enter the facility, which had reached capacity, leaned on the front door, unintentionally applying pressure to a pane causing it to break,” a statement obtained by FOX 5 DC reads. “This incident led to a disturbance among guests and a disruption of the program taking place inside. Guests in attendance were immediately dispersed following this incident.”

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Graduation attendees in foyer

Video shared to social media shows loved ones of graduates crowded in a foyer, recording and shouting “let us in.” (Destiny Myers)

Officials told FOX 5 emergency medical services personnel assisted someone who sustained a minor cut. 

At least one graduate from Thursday told NBC4 Washington that she did not get to walk during her high school graduation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also did not get to after graduating from Howard University magna cum laude.

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2024 Howard University nursing graduation ceremony

People can be seen attempting to support loved ones during their graduation from Howard University’s nursing graduation ceremony. (@Accelorwaverider)

A DC fire spokesperson told WJLA-TV on Friday that the department did not shut the event down. A university statement cited by the station said “every venue has a capacity limit” and guests were invited to join Saturday’s commencement convocation via livestream. 

“The overcrowding at Cramton Auditorium significantly impacted the guest experience,” the statement to WJLA reads. “To rectify this, we will formally recognize our College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences graduates at the Capital One Arena tomorrow, May 11, following our Commencement Convocation.”

Cramton auditorium broken door

A door’s broken glass can be seen in the foyer of Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium on May 9, 2024.  (@Accelorwaverider)

Graduates of the College of Engineering and Architecture had a similar experience during their scheduled Cramton Auditorium ceremony on Friday. Rather than the graduation being canceled, people were left out in the rain, WJLA reports. 

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A Howard University spokesperson told WJLA capacity issues during individual college’s graduation ceremonies have not been an issue in the past, but that this year was unique due to the school having the largest graduating class ever and students drawing larger crowds after not having high school graduations in 2020. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.   



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