Polite Golf-Claps Only Please

Galesburg High School won't give diplomas to 5 students because people in the crowd cheered when their names were called during the graduation ceremony.

Five students denied diplomas after cheers erupted when their names were called at a high school graduation emerged empty-handed Tuesday from a meeting with school administrators.

The students and their families met briefly with Galesburg High School officials at an administration building, but they were again denied the diplomas because no one apologized to school officials for the cheers at the May 27 ceremony.

The students in the central Illinois town about 150 miles southwest of Chicago will still graduate and receive their transcripts, even if they don't receive the keepsake diplomas.

School officials withheld the diplomas because they said the cheering violated a school policy aimed at restoring graduation decorum. Officials told the five female students and their parents Friday that they would hand over diplomas if they received apologies -- even anonymously.


The students denied the diplomas say school officials wanted them to track down the cheering culprits. They say that is impossible, because they don't know who might have cheered in the crowd of about 2,000 people.

The incident nicely encapsulates so much of what I find repulsive about public schooling:

1) Greater emphasis on appropriate social behavior rather than education
2) Blind obedience to authority
3) Collective punishment
4) Power-hungry, incompetent administrators

Any others?

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Abuse of power

#) Arbitrary nonsensical standards of social behavior. Graduation is a time to celebrate. Cheering is expected.

#) Infantilization of young adults. Rules, rules, everywhere. No dessert for you. No diploma for you.

#) Abuse of power for personal gain. Their pathetic demand for an anonymous apology sounds a lot like a personal issue - they want to be apologized to by somebody, anybody, so that they can feel good. And they will use school authority to get it.

#) Junk science (junk faddish psychology/social science). I can imagine that the attempt to suppress outburst comes out of a misguided egalitarian desire to keep the students who did not get cheers from feeling slighted. File under "everybody's a winner."

#) Institutional inertia, waste, and lack of sense. The lack of realism of the no-cheering rule is characteristically nonresponsive to reality, and the destructive refusal to award the earned diplomas is both wasteful and insane. It's what we would expect from an entrenched and decrepit bureaucracy. It is Kafkaesque.

Lack of Common Sense RULES

These dumb things are more about the administration's lack of common sense than anything else.
While not all rules are bad, rules like these are why some people hate public schools...

Anonymous apology

That part really bothered me too. It's pretty silly and arbitrary.

All news is news of the weird

Well, a lot of news. Something to keep in mind whenever reading news is that news is generally interesting (otherwise, why bother reporting it), and interesting stuff is generally out of the ordinary. It's interesting to me to read about a school that denied students diplomas for such a stupid reason because it never happened in my own experience.

There is a tendency in schools that is illustrated by this extreme event. But the extreme event is still extreme. Care should be taken when generalizing from events that have made the news precisely because they are in some important way unrepresentative.

Not So Easy

Eh. I agree that their methods aren't the greatest. At the same time, I have to agree with the goal. Commencement ceremonies are becoming more vulgar every year. People blow airhorns and shout like sports fans when their graduate's name gets announced. Often this means that you can't even hear the name of the next graduate in line. Sometimes, it even seems like a cheering contest to see who's the most popular. After receiving their diplomas, some students will raise their arms and give out a yell before jumping off the dais. Meanwhile, beach balls bounce around the crowd.

Call me a fuddy-duddy, but I think there's something to the decorum of the old days. If you want to have big cheers and airhorns and loud rock music, have a private party afterward.

Of course, much of this behavior is driven by the outrageous numbers associated with modern graduation ceremonies at factory-sized high schools and universities. It does get maddeningly boring to listen to 1000 names (hence the beach balls), and it's often difficult to know when your own graduate is stepping on stage (hence the taped-on messages on mortarboards). I think the solution might be to have more and smaller ceremonies, perhaps by department.

Not so hard

...which sound like a great reason to punish people who cheer.

So why punish the people who happened to be graduating when the illicit cheering happened instead?

This is nothing but the old logic of "A did something wrong, we can't find A, so let's punish B instead."

At my graduation, cowbells

At my graduation, cowbells and airhorns were unusual but not isolated. No one hollered when my name was called - which I personally preferred - but at my sister's graduation I let out a whoop which was described as "the Indians coming over the ridge to wipe out Custer". If that had cost her a diploma, I would have kicked some bureaucrat's ass.

- Josh

That's what every graduation needs

More cowbell.