News

Schools making graduations a ‘selfie-free’ zone

Schools making graduations a ‘selfie-free’ zone

LET ME TAKE A SELFIE:Officials at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, one of several colleges trying to limit the spontaneous self-portraits that proliferate social media sites, said they asked graduates to preserve decorum at its May 17 commencement. Photo: clipart.com

By Colleen Jenkins

(Reuters) – Ellen DeGeneres snapped “selfies” at the Oscars and President Barack Obama posed for one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, but some U.S. colleges have asked students to keep their cell phones tucked away during graduation season this month when they walk on stage for their diplomas.

Officials at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, one of several colleges trying to limit the spontaneous self-portraits that proliferate social media sites, said they asked graduates to preserve decorum at its May 17 commencement.

A handful of students drew laughs – and caught administrators by surprise – when they whipped out their smartphones for selfies on stage at last year’s graduation, said university relations director Elizabeth O’Neil.

PHOTOS: Celebrity selfies | EXTRA: Selfie is the year’s most hated word

With 758 students due to graduate this month, the school decided to take action before things got carried away.

“We didn’t want the ceremony to become longer than the 3-1/2 hours it already is by having students pause to take photos,” O’Neil said.

She said pictures posted on social media with Bryant University’s commencement hashtag also will be featured on a screen for families to see before the event.

Aaron Pereira, 22, a senior at Bryant who does not object to the new rule, expects a selfie-snapping frenzy as students don their robes and line up for the procession.

“It’s an emotional day,” said the accounting major from Chicopee, Massachusetts. “It’s definitely something you want to capture.”

Before graduation ceremonies in Tampa last week, the University of South Florida warned students who snapped selfies, marched or strolled on stage that they could have their degrees withheld.

Graduates heeded the request, said a school spokeswoman, settling for the professional photos made for each student with the university president during the ceremony.

Kent State University in Ohio has created a “selfie zone” with large frames and special backdrops for graduates as they line up for commencement ceremonies on Saturday, an effort to embrace social media without it becoming a distraction.

The school will stream a feed of students’ pictures inside the graduation arena before ceremonies begin, said university spokesman Eric Mansfield.

Kent State has not imposed a hard rule against taking self-portraits on stage, but Mansfield said officials hope students will be less inclined to do so given the other photo opportunities.

“It will help them just focus on the moment of achievement when they get on stage,” he said.

Some students at Bryant University in Rhode Island said the no-selfie rules were no big deal.

“This whole selfie nation has gotten out of control,” said Aubrey Mable, 21, a communication major from Denver, Colorado. “That never even crossed my mind that I was going to do it in the first place.”

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Editing by Grant McCool)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Lincoln Funeral Coalition: Still No Word on Obama Appearance

Fresh
lincoln

"I've not heard from the Secret Service, so I don't know that [Obama will be coming]."

in Local

Welcoming Centers for Immigrants Affected By Funding Cuts

Fresh
immigration

The immediate cuts to immigrant services include closing 10 welcoming centers around the state.

in Local

College Students, Sickle Cell Anemia Victims Impacted By Budget Cuts

Fresh
Budget Cuts

The cuts most recently made to the Illinois state budget affect college students and residents in the Chicago area with sickle cell anemia.

in Local

Zell Gives to Rauner’s PAC

Fresh
Illinois Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner greets Henry Kinion, right, Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. The Republican stopped in Springfield Friday on a six-city tour to thank supporters after his victory Tuesday over Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has a new million-dollar supporter: billionaire developer Sam Zell.

in Local

Madigan Calls for More Help for Sexual Assault Victims

Fresh
Lisa Madigan

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is continuing her push for legislation to help victims of sexual assaults on college campuses move through the legal system.