I don’t want to graduate at the cathedral and you shouldn’t either

Congo Hall may not be pretty, but it’s ours

cathedral celebration congregation hall day graduates graduation Norfolk norwich students uea uni

A petition to move UEA’s graduation ceremony from Congregation Hall to Norwich Cathedral is nearing 1,500 votes.

The petition has been winning over the support of picky students who are disappointed at the prospect of ending their time with UEA… at UEA.

We all know, though, that this is a horrific idea – it devalues what it really means to be graduating as a UEA student.

Why wouldn’t you want to graduate in the same square where you drank your finest VKs, or snap your photos at the lake where you accomplished the Five Ls – undoubtedly the second greatest achievement for any UEA alumnus?11752541_10154026185723066_7060108053857811494_n

Thanks to Britain’s favourite has-been Nick Clegg the price of the university experience already makes life difficult, and prices for graduation take the piss even more.

Currently graduates have to dig deep into their wallets to pay around £25 for each guest they want to bring to the reception, on top of fees for hiring the fancy gowns and buying the “Class of” photos which everyone so looks forward to showing off as a symbol of their accomplishments.

If the graduation venue was to move to the cathedral then prices for the reception will no doubt become more extortionate, leaving a large amount of angry students unable to enjoy the full graduation experience.

Add onto this the fees for car parking and staying in city accommodation and you’re only going to end up with a lot of stressed and and poorer students.

Masters student Maisie, who graduated last year, is worried about the potential problems graduating in the cathedral may cause students.

She said:  “Graduation is already a pretty pricey affair what with gowns, photos and the reception after. I’ve got a big family and had six people at my graduation – I couldn’t afford to take them all to the reception or buy enough photos for them without going massively into my overdraft.

“If graduation moves to the cathedral I think there’d be a lot more people like me who are forced to miss out on bits of what should be a really happy once-in-a-lifetime occasion just because they can’t cough up the cash.”

The petition’s success would also mean the university wasting money it doesn’t have on hiring out something completely unnecessary. For years students have happily accepted campus as their place of graduation and still enjoyed the day, so it doesn’t need to change now.

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The best part of graduating on campus is the sentiment. We’ve all got a personal connection with our concrete paradise.

Throwing hats up in the square and photos around the lake are a sign of celebrating at your university. This is the place, not the cathedral, where we’ve worked long and hard to achieve the graduation we’re celebrating, and this is the place where we are about to end possibly the best years of our life.

Regardless of how pretty you might think the cathedral is, it’s more important to celebrate the end of the most important years of your life somewhere that actually matters to you and has actually played a large part in your life itself.

For you pessimists who say that Congregation Hall only brings back memories of exams , graduating in it will mark one final “fuck you” to the hall of horrors. You’ve got victory over it.

Norwich Cathedral is beautiful but it’s obviously a strong symbol of Christianity. UEA is a diverse community but many of us will be put off by the idea of celebrating our graduation in a building we don’t feel welcome in.

Third year History student Harriet said “It wouldn’t be fair to force people to celebrate a big event in their life in a non-secular location.”

Third year Drama and English Olly McFadden said “My objection is to the use of a Christian place of worship.

“I’m an Atheist and I’m gay and I’ve suffered a number of very unpleasant encounters with religious people due to their opinions on my sexuality.

“I’d say personally my perspective is that this is an important building for an organisation that believes because of who I love I am less than others…why would I want the celebration of the end of three years of hard work to be in a building run by an organisation that is only just about accepting of me as a human being?”

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Most people who disagree with the idea of graduating on campus seem to only be doing so on the basis of what will look prettier under an Instagram filter.

But the problems with graduating at Norwich Cathedral are more important than the slightly ugly appearance of Congo Hall.

Graduating at the cathedral will turn one of the most special days of any UEA students’ lives into one of the most financially stressful and emotionally uncomfortable.

UEA’s campus may not be the most glamorous setting, but at least it’s ours.