H1N1 fears put graduation tradition on hold

Oklahoma State University has joined a growing list of institutions where administrators will not be shaking graduates’ hands during commencement exercises this year.

A statement e-mailed to the university community today says “OSU has announced that as a health precaution, administrators will not shake hands during the degree presentations at commencement ceremonies Friday and Saturday.”

AHCJ resourcesAHCJ resources for covering flu, pandemics and preparedness

Wichita State University has also decided to forgo the traditional hand shake.

“We don’t consider it a crisis. We just decided that it would probably be a prudent thing to do,” said WSU Provost Gary Miller.

The Associated Press reports a no-handshake policy for graduations at Oakland University north of Detroit and Mott Community College in Flint, Mich.  The Chicago Tribune says graduates of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and those at University of Illinois at Chicago also won’t be shaking hands. Other schools are considering such measures. Southern Illinois University Carbondale is putting its trust in hand sanitizers.

The CDC does not have a specific recommendation that universities suspend graduation handshakes; it offers the same precautions that we’ve been hearing: wash your hands and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

It seems officials have plenty of alternatives to suggest, including chest bumps, elbow taps and an “air high five.” Wichita State’s Miller suggested that administrators might pat graduates on the back instead.

Graduation could look a lot different this year.

Leave a Reply