Saturday, April 28, 2007

Concerns about "Alternative Commencement"

I'll admit that I'm of two minds about the concept of an alternative commencement like the one recently staged for BYU grads. I'm in support of diverse opinions being expressed and I supported in spirit the students who wanted to protest against Vice President Cheney. I disagreed with them in substance, but I appreciated the fact that discussions were spurred that otherwise might not have happened.

I'm also pleased to see people taking initiative to organize events and make things happen. The student organizers were able to line up a slate of speakers that was swooned over by the some on the left.

My problem with the event was the presumptuousness of it. I read in one account that people were wearing caps and gowns. If that report is accurate, they were literally staging a fake commencement. There can be no "alternate" that is not sanctioned by the university because students don't have the power to grant themselves degrees. Nor do they have power to honor themselves. So in that sense, any alternative commencement is a sham and a fraud.

Of course, commencements mean less these days than they used to. I know that the commencement is not the place where you actually pick up your diploma. There is a separate event for that for each college within the university. Many students forgo commencement altogether; I did. I'm told that it used to be relatively mandatory. Knowing that times have changed, maybe the "fraudulentness" of an alternative commencement is less severe now that it was in the past. Even so, I wish the event had been framed as a commencement enhancement rather than an alternate.


... said...

This is one of the lamest posts I've ever read.

Kojo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kojo said...

But your comment, Steven, was pure genius. So witty, yet thoughtful. Maybe, when your posting career is over, you can write fiction for the New Yorker, or perhaps engage in some literary criticism for The Times. Delightful, just delightful. :)