No graduation ceremonies 'really disappointing'

OUSA president Jack Manning. Photo: Peter McIntosh
OUSA president Jack Manning. Photo: Peter McIntosh/ODT
Students are taking the cancellation of more University of Otago graduation ceremonies well, but the disappointment is still very much felt, the students' association president says.

The university in Dunedin postponed this week's graduation ceremonies and parades following a security threat last week.

Four university ceremonies last week and four this week have been halted because of the online threat, while Otago Polytechnic also postponed its graduation ceremony following advice from police.

Neither the university nor police confirmed the nature of the threat, but it had been widely reported to have involved a shooting, and no arrests had been made.

The Singh family were among those whose graduation ceremony plans were disrupted last Wednesday....
The Singh family were among those whose graduation ceremony plans were disrupted last Wednesday. Photo: RNZ
Otago University Students' Association president Jack Manning said much of the point of graduation ceremonies is about those who had helped the student - family, friends, and the community of academics - alongside them at the event.

"These are students who've worked for years to get to this day, putting in thousands of hours of hard work to get this qualification.

"It's really disappointing they can't go ahead and celebrate in the way they were anticipating.

"But I've also seen lots of students still celebrating and still not letting this getting in the way of acknowledging their accomplishment.

"Students are taking it quite well but that disappointment is still very much felt and it is still very valid," he said.

Otago University vice-chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne said yesterday it was a further disappointment to postpone the 16 December and 19 December ceremonies.

"In the wake of Covid-19, our students have overcome huge obstacles to stay on track and complete their degrees this year.

"Moreover, many of our students and their whānau have made significant sacrifices to travel to Dunedin so they could be a part of these very special celebrations," Hayne said.

A group of students in Dunedin's Castle St managed to celebrate their graduation. Photo: Supplied...
A group of students in Dunedin's Castle St managed to celebrate their graduation. Photo: Supplied/Oliver Lee
Manning said families had still travelled to Dunedin as planned when the previous ceremonies were cancelled.

"On Saturday, when the previous graduation was meant to be, there were still hundreds of students around campus still looking overwhelmingly happy and overwhelmingly in a celebratory mood."

He had not noticed many police on campus, where the atmosphere was laidback, he said, and people appeared to feel quite safe there.

As with the previous incidents, all associated graduation events will still to take place on campus and details on where graduands will be able to pick up their certificates will be sent directly to them.

A replacement graduation event is being considered for next year for those who choose not to travel to Dunedin following the threat or wanted to take part in a full ceremony.



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