Our students graduated on Saturday. In Cambridge graduation lasts three days, from Thursday till Saturday. They go to pick up their degrees by college, in order of the date of foundation of the college (which means that Newnham in 1871 comes at the beginning of the last day).
I never go to the ceremony itself. In fact I have never been to a graduation ceremony at all, not even my own -- for any of my degrees (I just got the certificate through the post, in absentia as we say). When I was first graduating with my BA, I just couldn't face all the rituals -- the dressing up in the fur-lined hood, the clasping the fingers of the "praelector", the Latin and the hand-clasping with the vice-chancellor (or the vc's deputy -- the top-dog understandably doesn't sit in the senate house for three days presiding over this).
I also couldn't face organising the whole show for a pair of divorced parents (they werent technically divorced, as it turned out -- my Dad had lost interest in the whole proceedings after the decree nisi and had never bothered to apply for the decree absolute, despite reminders from his solicitors. . . . but they were divorced in spirit). I told both of them a real whopper: graduation wasn't any longer what most people did, it was just for the blazer brigade.
It is now one of my biggest regrets. At the cost of a little embarrassment to MB and some deft negotiation of parental squabbling, I could have given them a really proud and memorable day. So now when any student says to me that they don't fancy it, I try my hardest to persuade them to go through with it.
And I always try to go to the party that Newnham lays on for every one after the ceremony itself.