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 National

More millennials staying home with their parents

livingathome

U.S. millennials are more likely to be living with relatives now than before the Great Recession as the job market fails to rebound fully, a report suggests.

in National

Trump shows staying power ahead of first debate

trump

Trump is gaining momentum ahead of next week's first Republican debate, a new poll shows.

in National, World

Could Indian Ocean debris be from ill-fated MH370?

mh370

Malaysia is "almost certain" that plane debris found on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean is from a Boeing 777, heightening the possibility it could be wreckage from the missing flight.

in National

We’re driving some pretty old cars

autoworkers

In the age of Apple's CarPlay, a lot of cars on the road still have tape decks.

in National

10 FOR TODAY: Thursday, July 30

missingplaneaustralia

Your daily look at the stories that will be talked about today.