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Graduating Utah students often barred from wearing lei

  • STAR-ADVERTISER STAFF / 2013

    University of Hawaii at Manoa graduates pose with lei after receiving their bachelor’s degrees at the Stan Sheriff Center.

SALT LAKE CITY >> Some Utah high schools don’t allow students to wear lei and other ornamentation during graduation ceremonies, a restriction that the state’s Pacific Islander community says feels discriminatory.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports some schools around the state have sought a uniform look for graduating students that limits distractions or special attention, resulting in bans on ornamentation.

For some schools, the bans were placed by the venue for the ceremony. The Huntsman Center at the University of Utah where several ceremonies were held this year, including four ceremonies for the Salt Lake City School District, banned all lei.

District officials say they’re hoping to change the facility’s policy to be more inclusive.

M. Vida Hafoka, whose son graduated from Westlake High School, says lei “are a token of love and appreciation.”

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