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Support for
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St. Isidore car wash

For city kids, city neighborhoods

College graduations work around, even embrace social media

placeholder June 9, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA

Loyola University students in New Orleans take a selfie during their graduation ceremony at Mercedes-Benz Superdome May 10.
Kyle Encar/courtesy Loyola University, cns

College graduations work around,
even embrace social media

WASHINGTON — College graduation ceremonies are caught between pomp and circumstance.

They need to honor their graduates and maintain a sense of decorum, but their celebrations also are primarily for young people — a group that has grown up with social media and isn't afraid to use it.

But taking selfies at graduation ceremonies? Is that crossing a line?

At least two colleges thought so. This year Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, and the University of South Florida in Tampa banned selfies on stage to move the ceremonies along more quickly.

Some schools didn't blatantly enforce a no-cellphone-photo-zone on stage, but they did at least encourage students to resist the urge to take these pictures — particularly while receiving diplomas and shaking hands with the college president or dean of students. The suggestion was given not just in the interest of time but as a way to keep the event more dignified.

Other colleges, realizing that holding back the selfie tide could be akin to asking students not to write on their graduation caps, urged graduates to take all the photos they want during the ceremony and post them online with the school's hashtag.

The Loyola University New Orleans took this approach even a step further.

During the school's May 10 graduation, students were encouraged to post their Instagram and Twitter pictures using the hashtag #Loyola2014 and these images — moderated of course — were uploaded onto Jumbotron television screens in the arena, smaller screens on stage and also on television screens at the concession stands until they were replaced with live feed of the actual ceremony.

Mikel Pak, Loyola's associate director of public affairs, said the university received more than 600 photos in three hours for the live display at graduation.

Loyola, like many other colleges, also posted a live stream of the graduation on its website.

Those who attend the June 13 graduation at Santa Clara University in California will notice something other than photo snapping. The commencement ceremony will be water-bottle free; every graduate will be given a reusable water bottle filled with water.

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