UW Oshkosh officials are about to feel the wrath of the Participation Trophy Generation. The decision to cancel Mid-Year Commencement due to a snowstorm has already led to a petition demanding a rescheduled ceremony with full pomp and circumstance--and not just "recognition events" scheduled for late January.
The decision to cancel the show Friday night has much to do with the fact that UWO Chancellor Andrew Leavitt is a Southerner. Leavitt came to Oshkosh from Georgia--where the threat of one inch of snow is enough to cancel all events for a week. And while he may have received his PhD from the University of Utah, he may not be familiar with the Midwest attitude toward a foot of snow being nothing more than a mere inconvenience on our way to Friday Fish Fry or the Fox River Mall (which by all accounts was packed on Saturday--despite the storm).
But what Leavitt and other administrators should have anticipated is the foot-stomping and fit-throwing from the students affected by the decision to cancel. These are young adults who have had every minor accomplishment in their lives celebrated with over-the-top adulation. They had "graduation ceremonies" for Four-Year Old Kindergarten, "regular" Kindergarten, moving from Elementary School to Middle School, moving from Middle School to High School, and finishing High School. You'd better believe that they think they "deserve" to wear that cap and gown for completing their degree work.
And let's not forget that there were going to be "check ins" on Facebook, live streaming of their walk across the stage on Periscope, live tweeting of how (hashtag)bored they are by the ceremony and hundreds of photos to be liked on Instagram. Their moment of internet glory has been taken from them and they want it back.
What these celebration-less grads need to keep in mind is that the real accomplishment still lies ahead: getting a job with that degree and earning a living. No employer will ever ask you "I see you have a bachelors in accounting--but did the chancellor actually hand you that diploma?" Do you know where I was for my college graduation? At work--because that is why you get the degree--not to wear a cap and gown and to have your picture taken a thousand times.
So if you are among the 11-hundred or so "denied recognition of your accomplishment", take the cap and gown back for the refund that is being offered and use the cash to open a Roth IRA. At least those few bucks will provide you with some real benefit later in life.