The commencement ceremonies at California State University Northridge (CSUN) are a very organized group of events. In order to have a pleasant experience, follow these ten tips. Also, look for my other articles on the CSUN commencement ceremonies in order to understand the typical program schedule, who works there (and who you need to talk to in certain situations), and more.
These tips are for those who will be watching the graduations–not participating.
10 Tips to Have a Great Time
1. Go to the bathroom before finding a seat. Once you sit down, you will not want to leave your seat, as it may be taken. If your seat is taken while you’re gone, there’s nothing you can do about it, as there is absolutely no reserved seating.
2. Arrive an hour and a half early with your entire party to pick a good seat. You will want to arrive as early as possible so that your party can sit together. Do not send one person to arrive early and save seats, though. There is no reserving seats, and people who know this rule will take your seats.
3. If you didn’t arrive early, take somebody’s seats. It is clearly announced time and time again before the ceremony that there is no saving seats. If somebody is saving seats, and you need seats, take them! They’re breaking the rules, and fifty percent of the time, those seats will not be filled by the time the ceremony starts. If you need assistance taking a seat, ask a red-shirted Community Service Assistant (Matador Patrol) or an usher. If they can’t deal with the problem, they will hail a police officer. Individuals have been escorted out of the ceremony because they couldn’t follow the rules and were making a scene.
4. Don’t make a scene by refusing to follow the rules. People have been escorted out for a number of reasons. If a Community Service Assistant, usher, or a police officer asks you to do something, it’s probably for a reason, and you should probably do it. They have some patience, but if you really push it, you could be gone. There have even been instances of people losing their tempers and pushing others, for example. These people have gone to jail for assault, and were arrested before the ceremony even started. Don’t miss your graduate walking across the stage because of lack of self-control.
5. Don’t be mean to the people working. Some of them will be having a rough day (many people work every graduation, which is a few each day), and they may be yelling, or be short with you. By flipping them off or calling them names, you will be making their time more difficult, which will probably turn around and affect you, because they won’t want to help you later. If you have an usher, Community Service Assistant, or police officer who is actually being nice about doing his or her job, don’t screw it up. These types are usually pleasant enough to get many in the audience on their side, and if you are rude to them, you may make some enemies in the stands. Doing this will, of course, get you ratted out every time you do something that’s a teensy bit wrong or annoying, and may cause others to make your experience unpleasant, by standing in front of you, talking really loudly, or confronting you.
6. Don’t stand up during the ceremony. The idea is that, if everybody stands, nobody can see and everyone else will stand, but if everybody sits, everyone can see. So don’t be the person to stand. If you are standing long enough, somebody will tell you to sit down (somebody who works there). If you don’t comply, you could be escorted out just as you hear Johnny’s name called. The circumstances of your situation don’t really affect whether you will be allowed to stand or not. When it comes down to it, you’re blocking somebody else’s view. Your child may be walking up after five more people, but one of those five people might be the child of the family behind you. Be considerate, or leave (standing up to exit, say to the bathroom or elsewhere, is okay).
7. Don’t stand in the aisles. This is a fire hazard and you will be asked to move. Also, there are certain walkways that will be blocked off during specific times, for the graduates, educators, and faculty to walk, for example. When these are closed, you will not be allowed to enter onto them for safety reasons. Further, when any of the barricades are closed, do not open them and walk through. They are closed for a reason.
**Note that if somebody is standing in front of you or standing in the aisles and it is bothering you, you should contact either the ushers (usually wearing formal clothing or CSUN clothing, with a headset, and sometimes a small CSUN backpack), Community Service Assistants (also known as Matador Patrol, wearing red shirts with their title across the back in white, black pants, and with equipment and a radio attached to the belt), or a police officer.
8. Take photos in the designated photo areas. Obviously you can take photos from your seat (just don’t stand). If you so desire, though, there are two designated photo areas–one on each side of the stage–where you can take photos of your graduate walking up to the stage, shaking hands with important people, and walking away with his or her “diploma.” Ask an employee for directions to these areas.
9. Don’t bring a fog horn or noise-maker. People bring these, and you’re technically allowed to have them. However, the moment you use it, it will be confiscated. Honestly, most people don’t care if you use it (employees included). You just have to understand that it’s a one-time-use item that will be taken away. Also, for the sake of politeness, please do not continue to make noise longer than a second or two. This makes it so that others’ names cannot be heard. Most of these graduations see more than 1,000 graduates across the stage, each. Every graduate has family and friends waiting to hear their name. It is an awful thing to do to ruin it for somebody else. So, while you may make your noise, make sure not to blare out any other graduate’s name.
10. Don’t bring balloons. Yeah, it sounds like a great idea, but you will have a horrible time. Everybody behind you will hate you. They will yell at you. Some people may want to pop them. The ushers will ask you to either hold them down out of sight, or to exit with them. To save yourself the hassle, just don’t bring balloons. It will do everyone a favor.
By following these tips, your experience at the CSUN graduations and commencement ceremonies will be much more pleasant–guaranteed!