Speaking Out

Cell Phones at Commencement

I recently had the pleasure of attending this year's main Commencement ceremony in Franklin Field. Though I have been an employee of the University for some years, it was the first Commencement that I had attended. I had a family member and many friends in the graduating class of 2001, and looked forward to this event with great interest.

Although the weather could have been more cooperative, it was an excellent ceremony. However, I must take issue with a phenomenon that occurred at this Commencement: the use of cellular phones.

Many of the parents around me in the stands made innumerable calls on their cell phones during the ceremony. They talked during the Procession; they talked during the Invocation; they talked during President Rodin's remarks and Provost Barchi's remarks; they talked during the presentation of the honorary doctorates; they talked through Senator John McCain's speech; and they talked through the Recessional. They only fell silent when it was time to leave, and they could get in from the rain. It was one of the most striking acts of rudeness and disrespect that I have been witness to.

What is more distressing is that these parents were calling their children on the field; and as I learned from several students afterwards, these cell phone-toting students were disruptive of the ceremony for their neighbors throughout, not pausing from their gabbing even during the playing of the National Anthem and the singing of The Red and The Blue.

I encourage the planners of next year's Commencement to take strong, proactive measures to discourage the use of cellular phones and two-way pagers during this important event. Posting signs asking for such devices to be turned off, having the marshals stop cellular phone usage during the ceremony, and employing commercially -available cellular phone signal blocking technology are some options that ought to be explored. I hope that in dealing with this issue now, Commencement can be made an even more enjoyable celebration than it is now.

--Christopher P. Horrocks, Penn Computer Connection


I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed this year's Commencement ceremony in Franklin Field. It's unfortunate that your experience was affected by the use of cell phones by students and guests in the stadium. Over the past year or two, there has been a noticable increase in the use of cell phones during the ceremony and I share your concern. In the future, graduating students and their guests will be discouraged from using cell phones, via notices in the Commencement informational brochures and on the website and Commencement hotline. On the day of the event, signs will be posted at the gates to Franklin Field. I hope that these measures will ensure an enjoyable day for everyone.

--Leslie Laird Kruhly, Secretary of the University

Scatterbrained Title

Surely a dedicated, self-sacrificing police officer, a ground-breaker throughout her career, who carries a sidearm to insure the safety of our hides, merits the use of her title in print.

'Ms.' sounds like something scatterbrained who sits on a tuffet eating curds and whey.

Chief Rush, now Vice-President Rush, deserves better from the community which owes her for so much.

--Jerry Briggs, Van Pelt Library

Editor's Note: Almanac used standard journalistic style in the May 15 news story with no slight intended.

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by August 20 at noon for the September 4 issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 1, July 17, 2001