At first it was confusing. How many graduation ceremonies are there? One or two? Is it the 17th or the 18th of May? When do we graduate? Those questions accompanied lots of us from the day we were accepted to Columbia Law School.
But the closer we came to the great week of graduation, the clearer it became: There are two (2!!) graduation ceremonies. One law school graduation, and one university graduation. On the 17th and the 18th. But only the fact that we wore our wonderful baby-blue non-breathable gowns and black hats, was the same. The ceremonies themselves are completely different.
Last Wednesday, the university commencement took place. It is a very traditional ceremony, in which all (!) graduates of the entire Columbia University participate. Each school and college being part of Columbia University sent their graduates, and the respective dean requested the university’s president to confer the students their degrees. The entire campus is filled with graduates and spectators. Throughout the festive entrance procedure, everybody is allowed to march in listening to a wonderful march of Elgar, performed by wonderful loudspeakers. The university ensures equality to everybody here – even if this means that the piece is repeated 50 times. As soon as all deans, honorands and award winners are present as well, the commencement, guided by the university provost, starts. The President of the University (do never believe all those rumors Obama is about to come; those rumors are spread way to often throughout the year) addresses the graduates in a final speech, not only complimenting them for their achievements, but also forcefully reminding them of their responsibly of being a Columbia graduate, especially in present times. And then, the lengthy, but still interesting part of the ceremony (to the extent that you learn not only which other schools exist, but also what they do) begins: honors are distributed; each dean describes in a more or less entertaining manner the graduates’ achievements and learning success, and asks the president to grant degrees to the graduates. Finally, the president accepts those requests. Again, I do not want to reveal too many details - just experience it yourself. (For all who want more details check out the University Website; as there was even a live-stream for those who could not attend, you can see the entire ceremony online) It suffices to state: officially, we are graduates now! So, let the party begin – and so did it. As soon as the final word was spoken, the university played almost all songs about New York, and thus transformed the entire campus to a huge dance floor. Happy faces everywhere - Columbia University, it has been a pleasure.