As spring comes to an end and graduation nears, seniors prepare to receive their long-awaited diplomas. Despite the stress from the workload of higher level courses, and feeling like there are a million things to do in such a short amount of time, senior students just can’t help but get excited that their school years will finally be over.

Graduation is a heartwarming rite of passage, but it can also be a very bittersweet time for students if they don’t navigate it correctly.

This year, following the death of a senior who died during her graduation party, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports issued a decree on April 20 to stop schools from organizing grand parties for graduation.

On April 15, a female student from Ikh Zasag University died while celebrating her graduation at a holiday resort near Gachuurt, around 20 kilometers east of Ulaanbaatar. According to the Third Police Department of Bayanzurkh District, the 23-year-old economics and accounting major reportedly “died in her sleep”. The police say they haven’t determined the exact cause of her death, but they suspect that it was alcohol poisoning, as her classmates reported that she had been drinking excessively during the trip. One source stated that the 23-year-old was the mother of a nine-month-old.

A similar incident occurred at around the same time last year. In 2016, a graduate who had gone on a three-day, two-night trip to the countryside with classmates died from  unknown causes. Reportedly, the young man didn’t have a single scratch or wound on his body.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports decree banning drinking from graduation ceremonies and celebrations, also prohibits educational institutes at all levels from collecting money for graduation parties and putting a financial burden on students and their parents or guardians. The decree is effective for the organizing of graduation parties at holiday resorts, hotels, pubs, and campsites through May 30.

In total, 28 universities and 35 general education schools held graduation parties during the first month of the ban. There haven’t been any reported violations so far, said Ts.Erdenetsetseg, the head of the Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Prevention Section of the Ulaanbaatar Police Department. She stated that the police are encouraging the public, especially graduates, to stop drinking and avoid excessive consumption  of alcoholic beverages to avoid negative consequences.

Ts.Erdenetsetseg
Ts.Erdenetsetseg

“For the past six years, we have been warning seniors about drinking during graduation. The more bans that are put in place, the more people want to do it. That’s how it usually is, but the situation has changed. Compared to 10 years ago, more and more people are refusing to drink. People’s attitude toward graduation parties is also changing,” Ts.Erdenetsetseg said. “The police didn’t ban graduation parties. All we’re asking for is for people to be more careful when celebrating outside of the city.”

Ts.Erdenetsetseg stated that the police will take measures to protect students and young people from various risks, and advised seniors to behave more responsibly.

Each year, the ministry and the police remind graduates and schools to be careful during graduation season, yet their reminders and warnings seem to fall on deaf ears. With increasing incidents attributed to excessive drinking and irresponsible conduct during graduation parties, there’s a need to enhance supervision. Not only authorities, but also parents, teachers, and graduates themselves, should encourage one another to properly manage their behavior to get optimal results and prevent accidental deaths.

On average, more than 30,000 students from some 90 universities and colleges graduate every year. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports reported that there are 35,300 9th grade students and 37,501 12th grade students in Mongolia. In particular, 14,200 9th graders and 15,000 12th graders will graduate in Ulaanbaatar, and 21,000 9th graders and 22,501 12th graders will graduate from schools in the provinces. Based on this information, more than 100,000 students will graduate this year.

The National University of Mongolia will hold its graduation ceremony on June 20, and a senior from the university said that the school council has a grand after-party in mind following a tour around the city. Will the police and ministry be able to prevent accidents when the ban is over and supervision has become more relaxed?

We can’t blame seniors for wanting to celebrate receiving their diplomas and academic degrees, but they don’t necessarily have to drink to have a good time. Instead of spending a large sum of money on alcohol, it would be wiser to spend that money on travel or for organizing a small dinner party with classmates and teachers. Graduation is a formal event, not a birthday party. Avoid accidents, unintentional injuries, and an early death by drinking safely and managing your own conduct.

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