BYU graduation activities a family affai

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    By MARK EDDINGTO

    One graduation event that will be noticeably absent at Brigham Young University April 25 is the banquet at the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center Ballroom that normally follows the afternoon commencement exercise.

    Traditionally, graduates and their families pack the ballroom to eat, watch a multi-media slide presentation of BYU highlights and receive counsel about their responsibility to keep alive the “Spirit of the Y.”

    Because of Merrill J. Bateman’s inauguration as the 11th president of BYU, however, the banquet this year has been replaced by a potato bar and salad buffet that won’t be held until the following day.

    So those unfortunates planning on eating out in the Provo-Orem area on April 25 should make reservations early if they want to beat the hungry post-commencement crowd; otherwise, the Fuel America truck stop in Payson or Mickelson’s in Nephi might be the next best and closest alternative.

    Other than the banquet, it will be graduation as usual this year. Graduating seniors will still stop by the BYU Alumni House several days before commencement day, picking up their caps and gowns so they can have their pictures taken in the most winsome places all over campus.

    The bronze cougar by the football stadium is one such spot; another favorite is the statue of Brigham Young south of the Abraham O. Smoot Administration Building. For those grads leaving BYU with more than diplomas — a husband or wife, for example — the LOVE sculpture by the Museum of Art is ideal.

    Perhaps more than at any other university in the country, graduation at BYU is a family affair. Roughly 55 percent of the 3,800 undergraduate and graduate students receiving diplomas this year are married, as opposed to 61 percent of the men. BYU graduates not only carry caps and gowns, but ofttimes children as well.

    As one graduate puts it: “There is a rumor that if you leave BYU without your husband or MRS. degree, they’ll refund your tuition. That’s not true, of course.”

    Other commonplace traditions include the spontaneous throwing of caps into the air at college convocations, college or department send-offs for departing seniors, and the lighting of the “Y” every night during graduation week.

    There is also the processional where, depending on the weather, graduates either sedately or hurriedly wend their way to the Marriott Center for the commencement ceremony. Yet another commencement tradition is the annual welcoming of graduates into the world of BYU alumni.

    Graduates are asked to contribute the same number of dollars to BYU as the year of their class — that’s $96 for ’96 alums — over a three-year period. As they take their rightful place among the ghosts of graduating classes past, they are expected to carry the BYU experience with them by serving others.

    “Enter to learn — go forth to serve,” says the motto at the west entrance to campus. Unlike the banquet, that is one BYU tradition that will never change

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