rite of passage

I spent the weekend at my son’s college graduation.  My last child is now more or less launched.  The graduation ceremony was very well done.  The best part: The graduates processed across the campus to the arena in their regalia led by a bagpipe ensemble (about 20 pipers).  The bagpipes were way cool.  The faculty lined up along the parade route, so the graduates were marching past their professors and being greeted and congratulated as they marched.  My son and his girlfriend both said this was the best part of the graduation.  What a wonderful rite!  Graduations at small colleges are much more meaningful affairs.  I have been at Big State University for nearly 30 years and have never once attended an undergraduate graduation, nor even been asked to attend.   Our graduation is a huge impersonal cattle call.  I love rituals and think we ought to all line up and march around the campus once a year in our regalia, but I can’t get anyone to agree with me.


Author: olderwoman

I'm a sociology professor but not only a sociology professor. I keep my name out of this blog because I don't want my name associated with it in a Google search. Although I never write anything in a public forum like a blog that I'd be ashamed to have associated with my name (and you shouldn't either), it is illegal for me to use my position as a public employee to advance my religious or political views, and the pseudonym helps to preserve the distinction between my public and private identities. The pseudonym also helps to protect the people I may write about in describing public or semi-public events I've been involved with. You can read about my academic work on my academic blog http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/soc/racepoliticsjustice/ --Pam Oliver

4 thoughts on “rite of passage”

  1. At Colgate (and I’m warning you, you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you), the night before graduation the whole class gets dressed up in regalia on the top of a hill (called “Cardiac”), and faculty hand out enormous lighted torches. The drunken pre-graduates then file down the hill and around the lake as the sun sets, singing songs and threatening to light each other on fire, under the adoring gazes of our loved ones. There’s some sort of singing-silence-cheering combination that is semi-organized, right before we put out our torches in the lake and some graduates are pushed into it.

    How’s that for ritual?

  2. I thoroughly agree – went to hood my first PhD grad this spring and it was a very sweet, moving experience-even at Big State University. I haven’t made it (yet) to the undergrad though.

  3. I like ritual too. A couple of months ago, in my (small) university, the head of the Philosophy Department died. The faculty lined the road to the small university graveyard so that his coffin was driven past the colleagues he worked with. It was a moving gesture.

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