In the beloved year that is 2014, not too many things are shocking when it comes to the use of technology. It is not uncommon to have online textbooks and homework assignments, changing the way professors operate the classroom. Analogous to progressive teaching methodology is that of student interaction via the use of laptops, tablets, cellphones, and most importantly social media. Technology is a beautiful thing, allowing us to expand our world, but at what point do we need to stop and say enough is enough? Well, for Bryant University that point has may have finally arisen.
A common saying often exchanged between young adults is “pics or it didn’t happen,” to express the validity and acclaim of photographic evidence. We live in a culture that thrives on documentation of every social interaction, whether via words on Twitter, pictures on Instagram, or videos on Vine. This sort of social media can be put to great use as a medium of communication between students, or even between faculty and students (President Machtley is a great follow on Twitter) but just like most things, moderation needs to be exercised. In conjunction with this belief is the recent prohibition of selfies at the commencement of the class of 2014. The university rests assured that even if there is not a selfie of every graduate and President Machtley, it did indeed happen. This restriction placed upon the class of 2014 is not drastic by any measure, as normal pictures are still permitted per usual regulation. The university is simply asking students to resist the persistent urge to take a selfie with President Machtley on stage while receiving their diplomas.
The President is asked constantly by students if he will pose for a selfie and of course he does not refuse; this certainly speaks to the great relationship Ron Machtley has built with students in the Bryant community. “I tweet a lot, I have 2,200 followers on campus and I think the fear was…because I take a lot of selfies throughout the school year that it would become an epidemic,” Machtley says.
“Our staff was trying to protect me and the students from making this ceremony any longer.” Understandably, it is not feasible to have more than 800 students attempt to snap a quick headshot with the president in the midst of commencement and thus is justification for the university’s request.
Social media and amateur photography are still encouraged leading up to and following graduation. Throughout the month of April, the hashtag #BryantGrad2014 has been trending as a means of collecting students’ opinions, suggestions and experiences with the memorable event. Students are invited to take photos until the start of graduation on May 16th and post them to a new website hosted by Bryant.
For those students who will not be able to move on to bigger and better things without the satisfaction of a selfie with President Machtley to show their future children, the president says he will be happy to take photos afterward. Furthermore, there will be a professional photographer at the event to capture the moment each student shakes the hand of President Machtley.
What was the breaking point for the university on the issue of the absurd and comical prominence of selfies? Last year, a few graduates used their phones to snap a picture of their big moment. The commencement committee worried this year more students would catch onto the idea and subsequently slow down the ceremony. Bryant students have been completely receptive to the request and respect the university’s wishes.
Ali Luthman says some students might be upset about the no selfies rule but “no one is crying about it.”
Sometimes, technology can interfere and take away from the true meaning of the moment. The University is simply trying to preserve the special milestone of the graduates walking the stage and entering into a new phase of life. Spending a few hours during the ceremony without checking social media or without posing for a selfie may serve as a breath of fresh air for some students. The no selfie policy will certainly allow the class of 2014 to take in the moment with their own eyes, as opposed to seeing it reflected through the lens of their smartphone’s camera.