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Graduation-Ceremony Protocol

Richard W. Malott1

Behavior Analysis Program
Department of Psychology
Western Michigan University

White-Trash Graduation Garb

Foot gear

  • Tennis Shoes
  • Running Shoes
  • Dirty brown loafers
  • Sandals
  • Flip Flops


  • Blue jeans, etc.
  • Guys in shorts, with their hairy legs sticking out below their gown.

Yes, I’ve seen all this, and that was the faculty I‘m describing; so you can imagine how trashy the students can get.

Even experienced faculty, somehow feel they are invisible beneath their cap and gown, but their legs and feet sure as hell aren’t, in fact they’re highlighted as you walk across the stage in front of thousands of people for whom this is one of the two most important days in their lives.

Can Black students also be white trash? Of course, though the odds are considerably lower; because most black students have better taste than most white students.

How to Dress Way Cool (or whatever we fellow kids say today)

  • If everything below the gown can be black that’s really cool, but not necessarily worth buying a new wardrobe for, unless your parent’s are buying.
  • Guys: At least business-casual slacks, with your best dress shoes.
  • Gals: Now’s the time to wear your highest heels; you’ll never again in your life have as many people checking you out at one time. (Or as a famous contemporary female author [whose name I can’t recall] wrote: If God hadn’t meant for women to wear high heels, she wouldn’t have intelligently designed them to look so terrific in high heels.]

Appropriate Behavior on Receiving Your Diploma

No self-aggrandizing, self-congratulatory, arm-waving, spinning, shouting, victory dance, when you receive your diploma. There’s an inverse correlation between the obnoxious, boisterous ostentatiousness of your behavior on the graduation stage and your, GPA, IQ, the number of digits in your starting salary, and the length of your penis (where gender appropriate). The graduation ceremony is a serious ceremony, not a time for you to make an ass of yourself. Like when you get married, the second most important ceremony in your life, you don’t kiss your new spouse and then do a victory dance.

(By the way, I’m contemplating writing a set of instructions for brides and bridesmaids, who dress in expensive, high-class, tasteful virginal dresses, and then walk down the aisle with the incongruity of a gross snake tattoo wrapped around their arm. If you insist on sleeveless gowns, then go for it, do it right, and stop mixing genera: Go gothic—purple hair, black leather, with the skirts slit up to the butt, and nine-inch spiked heels. I’ll be there with my digital camera and official Uncle Dickie stamp of approval, rather than my official Uncle Dickie stamp of disapproval.)

A Hug or a Shake?

I never thought it was appropriate for me to give congratulatory hugs to female graduates, until the university declared such hugs a form of sexual harassment.

Now I give a hug to every consenting female graduate—usually, but not always, just a sincere handshake to the males.

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