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From signing the block U to Instagram contests: graduation traditions at the U.

In 2013, the decision was made to move Commencement from Friday morning to Thursday night, when more people would have a chance to attend and where the festivities surrounding the ceremony could be enjoyed under the golden hour of early evening. The change also brought some new customs that make one of life’s most momentous events even more memorable. Here’s a rundown on some of the activities that make commencement a special tradition.

University of Utah Commencement

Signing the Block U

On display to sign during Graduation Fair (where students can acquire their walking regalia) at the Campus Store each year, the white Block U stand reappears the night of commencement. Like many of these new traditions, it makes for a wonderful photo op and a chance to leave your signature on the day’s festivities.

🎓🎓🎓 @acfiler #utahgrad A photo posted by Brooke (@heyyhotmess) on

#UtahGrad Instagram Contest

Each year the Alumni Association sponsors a photo contest for seniors to enter shots of their time at the U. The pictures are featured in a video montage that plays on the Huntsman Center jumbotron before the commencement ceremony begins. Most of the entries are submitted through Instagram with a variation, depending on the year, of the hashtag #UtahGrad. Prizes include an iPad or $300 gift to the Campus Store, season tickets to football, men’s basketball and gymnastics, and a lifetime membership to the Alumni Association. Here are the top three #UtahGrad15 images selected by a panel of judges:

1st place (left) @rachylanger, 2nd place (center) @derekdeitsch, 3rd place (right) @janiedespain

1st place (left) @rachylanger, 2nd place (center) @derekdeitsch, 3rd place (right) @janiedespain

Commencement Playlist

Commencement Playlist

Headed up by ASUU, graduating seniors submit their favorite songs to be played by KUTE Radio before the commencement procession begins. Daft Punk, Pink, the Doobie Brothers, Beastie Boys, Black Keys, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Mofro are just a smattering of artists who have had their records spun outside the Huntsman.

Pictures at the Block U

Last year’s commencement was the first opportunity for recent graduates to have their photo taken at the newly erected Block U located north of Marriott Library. Installed in the fall of 2013, the sparkling red, life-size U logo makes for a pretty fantastic excuse to pose for a picture anytime of year, but there’s no better occasion than graduation to get a picture at the Block U amidst the slopes of rolling green and the budding leaves of the surrounding trees. And with spotlights on each side, even nighttime’s a great time for a photo—smile!

Share your graduation memories on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #UtahGrad15 and we’ll add them to our Storify feed dedicated to commencement.

Andrew Thompson Landerghini is a new media specialist with University Marketing & Communications and manages the University’s central social media channels.