Further Notes on ASU Commencement 2012

Last night I started to give a blow-by-blow account of the ASU commencement ceremony of 2012, but then my brain cut out and I had to stop partway through.  So here are some further thoughts on the big event!

Photo courtesy of my mom, from the stands.

Much confusion among the graduates when the announcer says, “Gentlemen, remove your hats for the singing of the national anthem.”  More than 50% of the class is female, after all.  And we’re all wearing hats.  But they aren’t “ladies’ hats” specifically, so does that mean we should remove them?  At all other ASU events, there is no such gender qualifier. It’s rather archaic for my generation.  In the end, about half of the female graduates take off their mortarboards and half leave them on.  Meh.

Tom Brokaw eventually materializes and the crowd goes wild.  His speech is a welcome change from the monotone drones of earlier.  I conclude that everything sounds better in Tom Brokaw’s voice, just as it does in Morgan Freeman’s.

Brokaw did his research – he rips on Tuscon, gives a shout out to the Vue, and wears the traditional ASU headgarb of a baseball cap.  Kudos, Tom Brokaw.  Sun Devil cred is now yours.

One snippet of Brokaw’s speech (which is very good): “Beware of their bombast.”  He’s speaking about political candidates in general.  Our class knows this all too well, most having entered college four years ago in the fall of 2008, just in time for the last presidential election.

Brokaw’s done, and now we have to do the thing where some people stand and some don’t.  I stand once.  That is enough for me.

Now degrees are conferred on us in bulk.  “Candidates” (representative students) from each college walk on the stage and then the whole college celebrates.  I’m not sure how I feel about this plan – some colleges have less than 50 students, while mine, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has over 3,000.  I would demand a bicameral system and our own House of Representatives, but for the fact that it would make an already long ceremony even longer.

One of the men bestowing awards steps away from the podium and continues speaking, obviously unaware that the mike does not follow him around.

Hey, we’re finally official!  Everybody moves their tassels from right to left and then throws their cap wildly in the air, which seems to defeat the point of carefully moving the tassel in the first place.  Ah well, it’s all symbolic I suppose.

The beach ball reappears, very near this time.  Perhaps it is a teleporting beach ball.  I have the sudden vision of a beach ball that, whenever it nears the ground, teleports itself to a random location high in the sky again.  MOST AWESOME OF BEACH BALLS.

The ASU chant rises from the ranks, and I participate for the last time in Sun Devil Stadium.  We should start an impromptu game of 10,000-person football – if only we had a football.  The beach ball might work – if only we could find it.

Fireworks!  I don’t know why I was surprised by them; ASU lights fireworks for every other event.  But there are a gazillion of them this time – I think more than I’ve ever seen.  They start at the end of the ceremony and last as I walk around the end and back across the entire length of the stadium.

The songs playing during our exit:
Brighter Than the Sun – Colbie Caillat – This one suffers from being overplayed, but I think it’s appropriate for graduating Sun Devils.  Bouncy and happy and whatnot.
We Are Young –  Fun – This one might be taking the theme a little too far.  The chorus is appropriate: Tonight / We are young / So let’s set the world on fire / We can burn brighter / Than the sun …but the rest of it is about getting high in the bathroom, abuse of a romantic partner, becoming too drunk to walk home from the bar by yourself, and needing to be carried home. I’m sure plenty of Sun Devils will have a Thursday night like this, but it might not be the best song to be blasted at the hordes of parents and family members during graduation.  Just sayin’.

That’s pretty much it for the ceremony.  Once everyone is outside, the graduates mill about like little lost lambs waiting for their parents to find them.  Pretty soon the parents jam the sidewalks as well.

A streetlamp goes off, and the remaining fluorescent light gives everything a bluish cast. Suddenly the whole scene seems like a dry-land reenactment of the mob of freezing, screeching people from Titanic.

Thankfully I survive the night, find my parents, and have been gradutated. Graduessed. Gradumatated.  Whatever. Hey, I have a degree in English – now I can make up all the words I want and no one can tell me differently!  Woo!


…This concludes our television broadcast.


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