Outgoing president applauds graduates

Otago University Students’ Association president Quintin Jane holds the graduation mace at the...
Otago University Students’ Association president Quintin Jane holds the graduation mace at the Dunedin Town Hall yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The outgoing president of the Otago University Students’ Association has paid tribute to this year’s cohort of University of Otago graduates as having faced some of the toughest obstacles.

Quintin Jane delivered the graduates’ address at yesterday’s 4pm ceremony at the Dunedin Town Hall.

Graduation ceremonies were held for degrees and diplomas in arts, music, theology, science and the bachelor in applied science.

Mr Jane, 23, paid tribute to both the lecturers and the students who had endured over the past few years.

"Sometimes, this isn’t what we want to think about, with the threat of climate change, the idea of maybe never owning a home, or the thought of another pandemic looming over us as we go into the future.

"It’s daunting, it’s scary, but when I think about how we have persevered through the last few years, I know the future isn’t that bleak.

"Every single graduate here today had to study through the worst parts of the Covid-19 pandemic, at either high school or university, which was no easy feat."

He spoke about the early stages of the pandemic and the first lockdown in March 2020.

"Studying at home was not easy — my parents’ Wi-Fi was not designed to have my two sisters, my mum and I all trying to work from home.

"It was near impossible to actually watch my lectures live.

"We had a spare room at home which I hoped to turn into a bit of a home office, just to get out of my room sometimes.

"This worked great for about three days until both my sisters decided to join me and did their utmost to distract me."

Every student at Otago University would have had similar stories of studying during Covid-19, he said.

"Every graduate here has shown that by getting through this, they are going to be a part of a resilient future.

"So when I think about these challenges that the future holds, I know that we are going to be the ones who can tackle these, and get on with it."

Being president of the OUSA had been a privilege, and he had seen students of all backgrounds rally together to stand up for themselves and support the university.

"I have seen students protest in support of their university, put on cultural showcases, fundraise for those affected by Cyclone Gabrielle, and clean up the streets of North Dunedin and so much more."