Graduates fret not, FIU still allows selfies

Image by Florida International University, courtesy of Creative Commons.

Rebeca Piccardo and Ruben Palacios/FIUSM Staff

Although other schools have started taking action against it, University graduates will still be allowed to snap a selfie as they walk across the stage to receive their diploma and shake hands with the president.

The University of South Florida notified all graduating seniors and placed an ad in the student newspaper informing them that inappropriate behavior during the commencement ceremony, like taking selfies with the president, would not be tolerated, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Dorian Valbrun, a junior marketing major at USF, agrees with the stance his school took, but is cautious about the disciplinary action of the selfies—which could include withholding a student’s degree.

“I agree with it,” Valbrun said. “Think of how many people that have to walk, it would slow down the process tremendously. But withholding the diploma is extreme.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, USF student body president Will Warmke saw that at least 15 selfies were taken  with USF president Judy Genshaft during fall graduation ceremonies. Since graduation classes are usually in the hundreds, the rarity of the selfie is what could make it worth someone’s while.

“That’s an epic selfie though,” Valbrun said. “It might be worth it.”

Camilo Parra, a senior finance major, said he experienced similar restrictive policies during his high school graduation, which he thought to be extreme.

Although he understands where universities are coming from with these policies, he said that asking students to not take photos and having a policy against it are two very different things.

“It depends on the severity of the repercussions and how deep the policy goes,” he said.

Adam Freeman, the USF media and public affairs coordinator, stressed the fact that the policy only applies when students are on stage.

Students are welcome to take photos before and after they are on stage receiving degrees,” said Freeman. Additionally, graduates have a professional photo taken with president Genshaft while on stage, he said.

With more than 5,000 degrees to hand out on May 2 and 3, Freeman said their goal is to keep each ceremony at approximately 90 minutes, which will run more smoothly without any disruptions on stage.

USF is not the only Florida school that has taken measures to prevent any shenanigans during commencement. The University of Florida asked its graduates to turn their cell phones and other electronics off before walking on stage, according to a Tampa Bay Times article.

FIU currently has no policy in place that prevents its students from taking photos throughout commencement.

Rosenberg's Selfie on Make A Gif GIF created from FIU Honors youtube video

A commencement ceremony, for some students, is not the appropriate place to snap a selfie.

Katherine Cardona, a senior criminal justice and psychology double major, thinks that the concept of taking selfies is good for self-esteem, but there is a time and a place.

Although Cardona doesn’t think the issue is serious enough to place a policy,  she said it might be a good idea, just in case.

“It’s already a nervous moment,” she said. “Students want to be in and out with their diploma.”

Students will probably take picture while seated, and take many more with family and friends after their commencement ceremony, so there is no need to hold up the line to take pictures while shaking President Mark B. Rosenberg’s hand, Cardona said.

Reinaldo Valdes, a senior recreation and sports management major, said he thinks the whole thing is ridiculous.

Valdes, who is walking on Monday night, said that although it’s not the best thing to do at a time like graduation,  taking a selfie is not the worst thing in the world either.

“If they do [take selfies], they do it,” he said. “I won’t like their picture on Instagram.”

Students also have other concerns while walking on stage, like not falling over in their heels, according to Fernanda Gonzalez, a senior public relations major.

Gonzalez said that when she graduates on Monday night, she will have her phone on her to take pictures while sitting her Phi Sigma Sigma sorority sisters.

She doesn’t think a policy is necessary because not many students would be daring enough to try anything while on stage.

“It takes guts to do that,” she said. “It has to be a special person with a silly personality to do that.”

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