Misbehavin’ at college graduations is not OK

college graduations

Celebrations during commencement ceremonies have become a sad excuse for pride in academic achievement and our accomplished graduates deserve better.

After listening to yelling, screaming, horns, noisemakers, barking and stomping, this is as nice as I can put it. I have attended two graduations so far this year and out-of-control audiences have marred what is a symbol of great pride for every family I know. Watching and listening quietly with pride as the diplomas are awarded should be a sacred time, not one for us to be as loud as possible so nobody hears anything. Yes, I know you came to celebrate but when school officials ask that we respect everyone’s right to hear, that’s the least we can do.

AND, Gymnasiums are great for sporting events but they have become woefully inadequate for graduations. Live streaming is great if you can’t attend but watching it from a cafeteria, classroom or some other campus facility after having spent money and time on airfare, gas, hotel, etc., is frustrating. Campus parking on a given day is insufficient so by the time you add another 300-400 cars for commencement, it’s a disaster waiting to happen if there’s even a small emergency. Long lines of people waiting outside to get into small spaces is like trying to stuff your present self in your high school letter jacket. It ain’t pretty!

The year before I graduated from college I attended commencement at my school and watched a mother have a meltdown outside the door when she couldn’t get in the gym to see her daughter graduate. I still remember her sobs and my feelings of helplessness. As the student representative to the board of trustees, I insisted that officials find a space for our commencement that had adequate parking, access, and seating to accommodate anyone who wanted to come. I still think that must be the standard/goal.

Graduation is a family affair and everybody—and I do mean everybody and his cousin– wants to be there. For me, this is an accountability issue. We must hold each other accountable—schools must face reality and adjust accordingly when the commencement facility is not working. Comfortable and adequate seating with access and parking (to avoid being blocked in/stuck in the parking lot/street an hour coming and going) is the bare minimum. Equally as important though, we must handle ourselves more respectfully and civil toward the graduates and other families. The scriptures tell us there’s a time and place for everything under the heavens—when it’s time to sit down and shut up, like the Nike commercial advises, “Just do it!”

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