UC Berkeley students responded to the indefinite postponement of their graduation with a custom-built virtual celebration.
Cognitive science major Bjorn Lustic took a sarcastic Facebook response to the indefinite postponement of their graduation and decided to make it a reality, “brick” by virtual brick. Graduating senior Nick Pickett remembers the comment suggesting that someone just build Memorial Stadium in Minecraft. And that is precisely what Lustic did, along with seven of his friends.
Over the following weeks, the project ballooned in popularity. Soon other students, and even faculty, were contributing to the digital replica. “I think due to the circumstances (of sheltering in place) a lot of people could relate and wanted to help,” Lustic said. Slowly, familiar features took shape. The dome and its familiar yellow bleachers, framing a built-to-scale touchline, and a field sporting the Golden Bears logo. Even fraternity houses and greenery gilded the scene.
“Blockeley University” held its virtual commencement on Saturday afternoon, featuring pre-recorded speeches by Chancellor Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor Marc Fisher, and others who managed the blocky avatars’ choreography. The ceremony spared no detail; there was the conferring of degrees, to “Pomp and Circumstance” by the UC Berkeley Wind Ensemble, and even the traditional choir performance of “Hail to California.”
The entire event was streamed live on Twitch.tv, and the archive is still available to watch.