A petition has been started to guarantee a graduation for final year students

Please let us wear the gown

A petition has been launched asking for a guarantee of physical graduation ceremonies at some point in the future for final year students.

An email was sent to students this morning outlining new plans for online graduation events which are to be held during the week of 27th-31st July.

The email further stated that it is unlikely that physical graduation ceremonies which had been proposed for November and December will now not be able to take place due to current social distancing measures.

It continued by stating: “We are still hoping to offer the chance of an on-campus ceremony in the next academic year, but this will only be if it is safe and if we can accommodate on-campus ceremonies.”

The petition has been started by final year history and politics student, Lydia Rigby. She launched it this morning at it already has over 750 signatures.

The Newcastle Tab spoke to her about her decision to launch it. She told us: “Graduation day is so important for students because it is a celebration of three years of hard work and the first day of the rest of our lives.

“The class of 2020 have been through multiple stages of strikes action and the pandemic so we think we deserve the promise of a graduation in the future as an online one doesn’t cut it.”

The description of the petition outlined the concern of timing at which this email was sent with many students currently completing final essays and exams. It said: “The insensitivity of the email is appalling. The email arrived to students in the middle of an already very stressful and extraordinary exam period without the slightest hint of understanding of how much of an emotive issue graduation is for students.

“We do not wish to sound unreasonable and unrealistic. We understand that at this moment setting an exact date is impossible.Therefore what we seek is a firm commitment from Newcastle University to grant us, the graduates of 2020, the graduation ceremony we deserve, rather than the vague aspiration to holding one.”

If you feel passionate about having a physical graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievement of these students, whenever that may be, sign the petition here.

As of 2pm today, students received an email clarifying that the intention to have a physical ceremony was still there. The email read: “Just to clarify, we still intend to offer the class of 2020 the chance of a physical graduation ceremony on campus when this is possible.

“The graduation ceremonies are the highlight of our academic year – for both students and staff – and we are all disappointed by the current situation.

“We will work hard to ensure the virtual ceremonies are as special and celebratory as they can be and will keep you updated as soon as we can on plans for an on-campus graduation as the restrictions ease.”

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