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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tortilla tossing a concern

    UA mascot Wilbur T. Wildcat rears back to throw a tortilla at the spring 2005 afternoon graduation ceremony. Campus administrators are still worried that tortillas could injure or offend students and their families at next weeks commencement ceremony.
    UA mascot Wilbur T. Wildcat rears back to throw a tortilla at the spring 2005 afternoon graduation ceremony. Campus administrators are still worried that tortillas could injure or offend students and their families at next week’s commencement ceremony.

    Students who throw tortillas at the December commencement ceremony may face consequences including ejection from the ceremony and delay in receiving a diploma, UA administrators said.

    Administrators have hired a security company to search incoming graduates and guests as they enter McKale Center to be sure that no food is thrown at the ceremony, said Jim Drnek, associate dean of students and coordinator of the commencement ceremony.

    Contemporary Services Corporation, the company that provides campus security during game days, was paid $3,100 by the UA for its services.

    “”We could have (provided security) for about half of that number if we weren’t concerned with people throwing food,”” Drnek said.

    In past commencement ceremonies, graduates and their families sometimes threw tortillas in celebration. While some dub it a UA tradition, administrators say is it disruptive and dangerous behavior.

    In 2004, then-President Peter Likins cancelled the winter commencement ceremony because of tortilla concerns, but later reinstated the ceremony on the condition that tortilla tossing would stop. Since then, increased security has accompanied graduation ceremonies.

    To combat the tortilla problem, the security

    A tortilla, especially if it is dried, can really injure someone.

    – Jim Drnek, associate dean of students and coordinator of the commencement ceremony

    company will be searching bags, in hopes of finding any food that could be thrown during the ceremony, Drnek said.

    Of the confiscated food, Drnek said that any unopened jars or packages will be donated to the Food Bank of Tucson.

    “”Sometimes it is family members or guests who throw food, and they will be asked to leave as well,”” Drnek said.

    Also on hand at the ceremony will be 15 student marshals who will act as monitors to dispel any disruptions during graduation, Drnek said.

    Although President Robert Shelton was not available for comment, Drnek said he believes Shelton and the UA administration are in agreement with Likins and his stance against the throwing of tortillas during graduation.

    “”They want the commencement to be a dignified occasion that is respectful of the people, graduates and the cultures of this part of the country,”” Drnek said. “”A tortilla, especially if it is dried, can really injure someone.””

    The University of Arizona Police Department will post officers both inside the arena and on the street for the purpose of controlling traffic, said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, UAPD spokesman.

    “”Usually the celebration and the throwing of tortillas is internalized by the administration,”” Mejia said. “”It is not something that we get involved with unless a criminal act occurs.””

    Dorothy Ramirez, a creative writing senior who is graduating next week, said she has been looking forward to throwing tortillas at graduation since she was admitted to the UA.

    “”It’s something that’s really unique to the UA,”” Ramirez said. “”It’s just one of many stupid rules where you have to stick to the ceremony and not deviate at all.””

    Nonetheless, Mejia said he will have police officers “”provide a safety net”” of security just in case the ceremony gets too rowdy.

    “”This is a festive mood for everyone, including UAPD,”” Mejia said. “”We have seen a lot of the graduates growing up before our eyes, and we are almost as proud as their parents.””

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