Jul 05, 2020

In defense of Dog House: A sober ceremony


Graduation is a day of celebration, distinction and honor – a day you will probably remember for the rest of your life. That is, unless you’re completely hammered.

For the past few years, Dog House Grill has run a special on the morning of graduation in which it opens early at 6 a.m. and offers drink specials, such as bottomless mimosas. This year, however, at the request of Paul Oliaro, vice president of student affairs at Fresno State, Dog House will no longer be holding this “tradition.”

In a letter from Oliaro written to Matt Billingsley, the manager of Dog House, he explains his “concern about the number of students who have recently attended our ceremonies who were intoxicated,” stating that it is intended to be “a safe and dignified event for the students and parents who will be celebrating this moment.”

Since news of this cancellation has spread among the student body, many students are angry that the tradition they have been looking forward to for years will no longer exist when it will be their time to graduate, even creating a Facebook page in protest.

But why all the fuss?

Graduation is supposed to be a professional, dignified ceremony. It is not a party. It is completely unnecessary, and frankly disrespectful, to expect to show up to such an event completely smashed.

For ladies, I would suspect that walking in a long dress and heels is a difficult enough process without the added influence of alcohol, and men certainly don’t need any more motivation to act like idiots in public.

Some may argue that people will get drunk anyway, and that it will make it more dangerous because they will try to drive from farther away. With Dog House being so close to the Save Mart Center, it would seem reasonable to provide it as a safe haven for people who choose to drink.

But that’s not the point.

The early opening with drink specials is encouraging drinking. It is encouraging people to come and get drunk, when otherwise they probably wouldn’t have.

The fact that it is so close to Save Mart Center seems so convenient that it makes people think it is acceptable and safe for them to get tipsy and just walk to graduation. It is making being drunk at graduation more accessible and acceptable when this should not be the case.

Yes, graduation is not a fun thing to sit through. But it’s not supposed to be fun. It’s a ceremony: a formal, polite and distinguished progression, honoring students for their years of hard work and accomplishments.

Would you want to be sitting next to someone on the verge of vomiting? Someone acting belligerently? Someone stumbling up the stairs to the stage in front of you?


Graduation is long and boring, but just deal with it. You dealt with it in middle school. You dealt with it in high school. You dealt with it for your brother or sister or friend. Just sit there in the crowd of thousands of other bored faces and deal with it like a responsible adult – as someone who is, I don’t know, graduating from college, maybe?

If not for your sake, for the sake of the person sitting next to you. For your parents, who have waited 20-something years to see you walk. For the administrators who are trying to get through the event without a hitch.

I commend the owners and managers of Dog House Grill for their willingness to abide by Oliaro’s request. The restaurant is a separate entity that has no obligation to do what Fresno State asks, but it chose to do so for the betterment of the campus and community, and out of respect for the establishment that indirectly provides a source of much of its business.

Don’t boycott Dog House. Don’t go get drunk somewhere else. Don’t speak ill of the university for only doing what is in its best interest as an institution of higher learning. Don’t ruin the reverence and dignity of a long-held tradition of honor and accomplishment.

It may seem boring and pointless now, but in 20 years, you will look back on your college graduation and be thankful that you can actually remember it.

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