Convocation is the most solemn ceremony within the university community. Since their beginnings in the Middle Ages, universities have performed this ceremony in order to grant degrees to their students and also welcome those students into the community of scholars which has trained them.
The conferring of the degree is symbolized either by an acknowledgement or handshake from the Chancellor or the President or other conferring officers of the university.
As an outward sign of his or her new state, the student wears a hood. Each degree within a university has a hood of unique colours and trim in order that the student's status may be recognized--indeed every university guards its own set of hoods from use by any other university.
In order to recognized the nature of this event for the students involved, the university asks that parents and friends of the students participating in this ceremony withhold their applause until all members being admitted to each degree have left the dais. Students are asked to remain in their seats while other graduates receive their degrees.