Just ‘Cause You’re At Graduation Doesn’t Mean You’re Smart
by Gina Valley
I’ve attended, well really suffered through and barely survived, but who wants to start off all negative, several graduation ceremonies during this year’s season of graduations. As a result, I have a few thoughts on the subject of graduation ceremonies.
Graduation is a uniquely strange honor ceremony because none of the honorees wants to be there. They have to be there. Their mothers make them go. But, compelled attendance by maternal units is not the only uniquely strange part of this tradition.
I don’t want to appear bossy or judgmental. I am, but I don’t want to appear to be. So, I’ll just ask some questions:
Let’s start with the people on the stage, or, as I have been told they are called by a very official looking guy with a rake at my son’s graduation ceremony, “The Platform Party.” They seem to be in charge of all the talking. And there is A LOT of talking!
Since most of you, all of you in fact except the one student up there, are not graduating, why did most of you in The Platform Party wear a robe? Are you being forced to wear that as punishment or a hazing of some type? And, what’s with all the weird hats? Did you think this was Hogwarts?
Those of you in suits looked nice, but did you consider that graduations always take place on the hottest day of the year and that you would appear to be a melted snowman by the end of the ceremony?
The one dude who was up there in holey jeans and a raunchy looking sport jacket – Dude – seriously? Were you just trying to look like a heroin addict? Did you cut those holes in the jeans specifically so we’d know what color your underwear was? (BTW, thanks for wearing some – not everyone attending did!)
Do we really need an announcement before the ceremony that reminds us to put trash into the trash cans? Really? Gee, is that what the trash can is for? Isn’t that level of knowledge usually reserved for doctoral candidates? Is anyone else as thankful as I am for this helpful reminder?
How about the announcement to stay until the end of the ceremony, rather than just getting up to leave after your family member’s name is read? Is this really a problem? Is anyone that dumb? And, if they are, will this announcement actually have any effect on their behavior?
Is there some sort of epidemic of ceremony jumpers sweeping our nation who leave after the person they are interested in has done their part in ceremonies? Are friends of the bride jamming out of churches without waiting to hear from the groom, so they can get a jump on the reception? Are all the Art majors’ families seated at the Olive Garden before the psychology kids get to trip over the microphone cords running across the stage? Shouldn’t being stupid AND rude make it illegal for you to breed?
What’s with the token politician in the platform party? Do you realize I’m not going to vote for you because you’re up there? You didn’t happen to pay off our student loans or get us a good parking space, did you? Are you aware I can hardly remember my kid’s name because I am nearly having a heat stroke? Do you really think I’m going to remember you were here?
Do you want the votes of me and every other non-felon member of the audience to be cast in your favor? Then, why don’t you stand up and tell them to quit the yammering and read off the graduates names so we can all go inside?!?! Do you realize I have a two year old with me and she bites when she’s irritated? Can’t you help me out?
Is there some reason the introduction read about honorary degree recipients has to be TWICE as long as their acceptance speech? And, what exactly is twice of infinity? Are the recipients of honorary degrees attempting to speak for as much time as it would have taken them to actually earn the degree?
And, what’s the deal with these honorary degrees anyway? Don’t you think giving that to someone during the graduation ceremony is kind of a pie in the face to all the graduates there who actually had to study and attend classes for years to get their degrees, not to mention pay for them?
If you’re going to be speaking in any capacity, anything from introducing someone to giving the long (too long actually) commencement address, don’t you think it might be a good idea if you read and maybe checked the pronunciation of the big words in your part? Aren’t you embarrassed when you have a doctorate in English and you pronounce “entrepreneur” wrong THREE times in under 3 minutes? It’s not pronounced like “trompe l’oeil,” you know?
And, if you are standing next to someone who has pronounced “entrepreneur” wrong BIG TIME, like unrecognizably wrong twice already, couldn’t you whisper the correct pronunciation into the poor woman’s ear so she can regain a teensy shred of dignity or at least get the audience to stop giggling?
Shouldn’t you, as the speaker, also be fairly familiar with and readily able to pronounce common or small words like “aids” or “location” correctly?
What’s with the commencement address? Doesn’t commence mean to begin? When is it going to end? Is it going to end? Is it just me, or does it feel like it is never going to end? And, what’s the point of this speech anyway? If the graduates haven’t learned something up until this point, isn’t it too late?
If you must name drop every “famous” person you have ever bumped into couldn’t you just list them off quickly and sit down rather than peppering a 45 minute diatribe about the unfairness of life (very uplifting, by the way, thank you!) with them? Can’t you as speaker remember the most basic rule of speaking at a graduation? (It’s shut up, shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!!!)
I’ll see you there!
Laugh Out Loud!
What’s your favorite graduation horror, I mean, endearing story? I look forward to hearing about it, so please drop me a comment!