One of of our biggest challenges on commencement day are our students who celebrate too hard before the ceremonies.
We have had students throw up on other students during graduation before and it is AWFUL. Every time it seems to land in the long and perfectly curled hair of our female students. There is no way to fix that situation. It is horrible. This year, we brought in more people to specifically watch for intoxicated students so that we could quarantine them before they got out on the floor. All weekend, this is what I heard shouted through my walkie:
This year, we captured quite the herd of students who could barely walk or speak. I know it is an exciting time, but pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease help your student wait to party until after graduation. We really have to save them from themselves because puking or falling in front of 12,000 people is mortifying. And it’s a livestreamed event, so that kind of thing quickly becomes internet gold. We usually take inebriated students to a lounge where we give them snacks and water, and let them hang out for the first hour or so. If they are doing better and can walk, then we get them out so they can at least cross the stage. I HATE having to tell students they cannot walk and I really really REALLY hate telling their parents. Don’t be mad at me, be mad at your kid!!
We had one poor student whose hangover was so bad that he actually found me on the floor and confessed that he had been stupid, and asked if we could help him find his parents so he could go home before he got sick. I really appreciated the self-reporting from him.
Another young woman was falling over in the line up, and we pulled her out to see what was happening. She was wearing tennis shoes and could not even walk (a lot of students seem like they might be drunk, but it often turns out they simply cannot walk in their super high heels). I am here 100% to help students make it onto the floor until they are rude to me. This girl called my colleague an “asshole” several times and told me that I smelled and looked like a bar. Looked like a bar??
We got her to a lounge where she continued to be a jerk. Apparently, she had champagne at her parent’s house, then checked in at graduation and went to a nearby restaurant to do shots. Her parents were first mad at me, but quickly became appalled and super upset with her for her behavior. I thought her mom was going to body slam her. We offered for her to come back the next day to participate, but they never contacted us again. I hope she gets her shit together.
I remind myself and our staff constantly that these are young people whose brains are not fully formed. I was once a young person and I made PLENTY of poor decisions. We need to be the people who help them figure this out. I say that because I am not a heartless bitch. I want students to participate in graduation, and it really breaks my heart when they have overindulged and are not able to walk across the stage.
I was planning to spend Sunday evening sitting on the floor and enjoying the final ceremony (I am normally running around and do not get to actually watch much of it). Unfortunately, there was a report of puking in the line. Since I am an administrator, I feel like it is my job to deal with it. Staff report it, but they should not have to deal with the students or the angry parents. At first, the young woman in the hallway said that it was the girl next to her who had puked. It was clear within seconds that she could not walk at all. We got her seated and had the on-site EMTs come check her out.
She then admitted she had thrown up, but it was because it was hot. Something students often fail to realize is how long they will be standing and that it is hot when you’re inside that plastic robe. We got her water and a fan, and she then admitted that she had gotten too hot, but she had also had a glass of champagne. She got up to walk, then leaned against a wall and totally slid down to the floor. She continued to emphatically state that she was fine as she puked in her hand.
Eventually the truth came out that she had enjoyed a full bottle of champagne at brunch and was not doing well. I got her to the lounge and gave her some peanuts and water. She asked me if I thought she was going to be able to walk, and I told probably not. She then threw the peanuts on the ground. I gasped and she said “what???”
She looked down and screeched, “OH MY GOD, I am SO SORRY!!!” then proceeded to crawl around the floor picking them all up while apologizing. She was doing much better after about 90 minutes and had apologized profusely, so I walked her out to the stage and let her cross. When we got up on the floor, she waved to her parents, and her mother yelled “WHERE WERE YOU.” It honestly scared me a little bit.
Moral of the story: College graduates are adults who are usually of legal drinking age, but please do everything you can to help your student wait until after the ceremony to party. You have the rest of your life to get drunk in a cheap plastic gown.