OPINION: Why I’m not walking

I am graduating in December. That feels good to type out.

A bachelor’s degree can open doors for people. After three-and-a-half-years, at least one more door will be open to me. As soon as I cross that stage and get that scroll, a world of opportunities will be unveiled and the magic of the baccalaureate is released.

Or, so one might think. It’s actually much less exciting than that.

However, this column isn’t about the degree. It’s about the ceremony behind the degree.

It should come as no real surprise to anyone who is actually going through the graduation process, but that scroll received on stage isn’t actually a degree. It’s instructions on how to get the degree. Which should come in about six to eight weeks. Hooray.

Okay, but obviously it wouldn’t be the real degree. Why would it be all rolled up, only for it to be flattened and then framed? This is true, except for having every student shake the hand of the university’s president on stage would make for a really lame picture. 

Still, it’s a milestone in every student’s achievement to make it this far. I applaud every student who is going up on the stage this December. They all worked hard to receive their degrees, and they should all be given their proper respects. 

Every single one of them. All at once. One after the other. In the same gown. At least they can put something quirky or unique on top of their caps.

This probably seems like the writings of a student who is vocalizing some kind of silent protest, someone who’s intentionally going against the grain of tradition as some form of rebellion. And that’s a fair assumption. It’s partially wrong, but it’s fair.

I am not a patient person. I have sat through several graduations and they are functionally the same format every time. The president or some high-ranking faculty member will state the rules, usually no clapping until after everyone is named. The student body president/valedictorian/some random person will then provide some motivational words to their fellow peers, and then we form a line to get paper and a photo for the ’gram.

Also, having to pay for clothing that I’m likely to never wear again except for photoshoots is not very appealing to me. 

I don’t want to do all that again. I’ve done it twice before, and I get it.

I’ve even had conversations with my parents about this. I didn’t want to deprive them of the opportunity to see their son walk across that stage if it showed them that, even just ritually, I had graduated from Wichita State University. I want them to feel that pride that I have for them.

But they’re cool with me not walking, so I’m not going to do it. 

We’re probably going to have some kind of cookout. Invite friends and family to get together. If the weather’s nice, maybe play some volleyball. 

I don’t expect to start a tradition out of this. I know people love their traditions. It makes them feel connected to something deeper and older than ourselves. Something that is passed down from generations of past graduates who have walked the same stage. 

But as someone who has formed part of his identity out of questioning traditions, I’m going to pass on this one.