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Commencement is the time of year where colleges and universities, across the nation, are busy preparing to send off a class of students. It seems like every department‘s solo focus is on this one event around this time. Students' grades are being checked, stages are being built, cameras are behind charge, flowers are being ordered, speeches are being written, but there's more going on behind the scenes that folk do not always see! There are many things going on behind the scenes but this article will look at it from the AV/IT side. 


The Network.

Everyone wants that perfect social media picture of their child walking across the stage, their child in their cap and grown, standing with their friends, family, etc… This all requires a reliable wireless network to support this increased demand.  Schools will see a large crowd of people and need to make sure the public wireless network can handle this burst of activities. 


Now not only does the public wifi need to be considered but so does the enterprise network. With most of the AV/IT equipment being on the network this is one event that there can not be a network issue at.  The AVoIP traffic needs to be handled correctly. The data network needs to be set up with proper firewall and security rules.  This is in mind that many of these locations are not designed for commencement.  Beside making sure the network can handle the event that is going on, it needs to be kept in mind that others are still working. There are still people who are back in the offices handling the daily business of the school. These members still need to be able to do their job and can’t have the network going down or slowness. 


The Equipment

With commencement being a once or twice a year event, many times special equipment needs to be brought in for the event. This includes equipment like video walls, extra cameras, extra microphones, extra speakers, and so on.  All of this equipment needs to be tested and verified it works as designed. Speaking of design, many location’s AV are not designed with this in mind, meaning that the infrastructure needs to be tested and verified will support all this extra equipment. 


The People

Commencement takes a toll on the people who are supporting the event. There are late nights, early mornings, crawling under stages, running miles of cables, setting up displays, testing audio, tearing everything down, putting everything away, getting 10,000+ steps in all for this event. Commencement is one of the very few times that higher education AV teams focus is like a live event person. Yes there are events throughout the school year but usually none as big or important as commencement. Even if schools bring in outside experts, it's still a live event that the school is supporting and the AV team is not always prepared for.



In closing commencement takes a toll on everyone and everything at the school but it is a very important event that takes a team effort, across many departments and stakeholders, to get done. The next time you hear a school is holding a commencement or you are attending commencement, think about all the work everyone is putting in. To those who support commencement, thank you and keep up the work. It is because of the work you are putting in, that family gets to see their child walk across a stage.