Commencement Exorcises

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BYU held its graduation ceremonies last week. As you know, BYU ends its semesters earlier than most universities, in order to give its students a head-start on not finding jobs. BYU students have been known to not find jobs nearly twice as fast as Harvard students, for example.

Graduation is a two-day process at BYU, the logic being typical of Mormon culture: Why have one meeting when you can have two? The first day is the big event, with general authorities, dignitaries and fireworks. The second day is the boring one, where each individual college does its own thing for its clump of graduates, tailoring the message to fit the people who majored in whatever it was they were offering.

So how do the colleges’ commencement speeches differ from one another? I’m glad you asked. Here are some excerpts from last week’s ceremonies.

FOR THEATER, FILM AND MUSIC MAJORS: Dean Leslie Prissy: “Remember, my young melodramatic friends, that while it was perfectly acceptable for you to wander around the Harris Fine Arts Center loudly reciting lines or singing pieces of music, people in the real world will look upon you as freaks if you do this publicly. In fact, people at BYU looked upon you as freaks when you did this. We suspect this is WHY you did it. As you go about your lives, trying to gain attention however you can, always remember what we have taught you here: You are the center of the universe. At some point, you may wish you had taken a regular General Education class, instead of finding some fine arts class that would count for it (such as taking ‘The History of the F-Sharp Chord’ instead of a real history class). When this day comes, fly into a hysterical, melodramatic fit and emotionally manipulate your friends into telling you how talented you are. Be careful not to shatter your fragile, gargantuan egos on the door frame as you exit the building.” (Lots of hugging and crying in the audience, causing mascara to run; some of the women also had this problem.)

FOR COMMUNICATIONS MAJORS: Dean Woodward von Bernstein: “And now, as you go out to work at The Daily Herald….”

FOR PHYSICAL EDUCATION MAJORS: Dean Brock Stockyard: “Dean not good with words. P.E. majors. Use skills in world. Be athlete. Be P.E. coach. Wear tiny shorts. BYU football rules! Woo-hoo!” (Loud, hooting cheers; many high-fives slapped; math majors beaten up.)

FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJORS: Dean Seymour Reginald Foofer: “Can whoever gave me this wedgie please step forward and de-wedgify me? Thank you. As you embark into careers of professional nerdery, remember that they’re making another ‘Star Trek’ movie, which should hopefully make up for that awful ‘Star Wars’ film we just had to endure. They’re considering Leonardo DiCaprio — I mean, DiCRAPIO! — to play Anakin Skywalker in the next one. (snorting, derisive laughter) Oh, I’m sure that will be a wise decision indeed on the part of Mr. George Lucas! Leonardo wouldn’t know a Wookiee from a Tauntaun! (more snorting laughter; many audience members have to use their inhalers) Anyway, good luck in your chosen field, and may you not make your first million before you go on your first date. Live long and prosper!”

FOR ELEMENTARY EDUCATION MAJORS: Dean Marjorie Christiansen Johannsen Kapp Perry: “We’re so proud of all you special sisters who are graduating in elementary education, all seven of you. Many of your sisters, as you know, were only in the major to kill time until they got married, at which point they dropped out and moved to Wymount Terrace, where they’ve been popping out kids like Pez dispensers. I admire you seven for having the courage not to get married, and for sticking to it right up to the end. We’re not sure what happens now, as we’ve never actually had anyone graduate before, but we’ve asked the university to please make up some diplomas for you, and we have refreshments out in the foyer. Buh-bye!”

FOR HUMANITIES MAJORS: Dean Plato L. Rembrandt: “Many have told you that it is impossible to find a career as a humanities graduate. To this I say, pshaw! Why, as long as there are humanities students, there will always be a need for humanities teachers. Aside from that, yeah, you’re pretty much screwed. Sorry, no refunds.” (quickly escapes out the back door)

There's a major flaw in the premise of this column, and it really bothers me (though not enough to prevent me from printing it). It is this: The graduation ceremonies are divided up by college, not by major. So in reality, the music, theater or film majors all met with the journalism majors, since all of those fall under the College of Fine Arts and Communications. And the College of Humanities encompasses not just worthless majors like humanities and philosophy, but some semi-useful ones, like English and the various other languages. I originally was going to stick with the colleges, but I found them all too broad in their scope: the College of Health and Human Performance, which has P.E. majors, also has some majors for which making fun of dumb jocks wouldn't work. So I split everything up, resulting in some fine humor, but which is, at its core, flawed. Acknowledging this flaw will hopefully exonerate me.

I like the fact that I take pot-shots at all these different types of college students, all without provocation or even good reason. Just lots of stereotypes, which are increasingly becoming the only reason I even get up in the morning.

By the way, I am not at all pleased with any of the fake names I came up with, though they all seem to fit the majors I've applied them to. It's sort of a Mad Magazine style (as is the whole premise of the column, really), and I'm not sure it totally works. This is especially true of Marjorie Christiansen Johannsen Kapp Perry, which I stole from former Garrens cast member Lisa Valentine Clark anyway.

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