A much-anticipated momentous occasion for hundreds of students quickly went downhill after the administration of the University of Guyana opted for a venue change for the larger of two segments of their 51st Convocation Ceremony on Saturday last.
This decision resulted in over 1200 graduands being cramped into the auditorium of the Sophia Exhibition Centre, while a great number of their family members and loved ones were left exposed to the elements, which was the reason behind shifting the ceremony from the university’s Turkeyen Campus in the first place.
Amidst the unbecoming conditions, students took to social media even as the ceremony was underway to express their displeasures over the unpleasant situation which plagued their graduation day.
Topping the list of grievances aired on the various online platforms was the poor accommodations put in place for the relatives of the graduating students. Adding to that, many relayed concerns in regard to the disorganisation in seating arrangements of the graduands which hindered the smooth flow in the ceremony. Some of the other issues raised were poor ventilation and disruption in audio during the proceeding.
In fact, some even expressed that the mere decision to stage the ceremony at the Sophia Centre was by virtue a disgraceful send off for students who have underwent significant expenses to pursue a tertiary education at the institution.
Meanwhile, in her public outburst, a Social Sciences graduate highlighted that her family were visiting from overseas, particularly to be a part of the occasion. However, they were unable to share in her accomplishment as she ascended the stage given that they were tucked away in the compound. After being locked out of the graduation ceremony and due to a sudden downpour, the foreign relatives were left with no choice but to pack up and leave.
As such, in light of all that had occurred, the University of Guyana’s Student Society (UGSS) on Monday announced that they have approached the institution’s administration, presenting a list of recommendations to correct the deplorable outcomes of their graduation which was hosted over the weekend.
This was after numerous complaints have reached the body, both from members of the UGSS as well as representatives of the faculty, despite the grand preparations advertised by UG’s administration for the staging of this year’s Convocation.
Among the suggestions offered by the student representative body was that there should be an immediate apology issued to the affected students and their families by means of electronic notice board, notice boards on campuses, schools and centers, and in the public press.
Continuing on that, the UGSS is calling for a refund of portion of the monies invested by the students for their graduation packages.
“The society estimates that at least sixteen million dollars ($16,000,000) was available from student graduation fees for coordination, facilities and other peripherals connected to the convocation. Recognising the efforts of the University to introduce new features they Executive stated that “notwithstanding this we submit that both a justice perspective and service perspective require some consolation to the affected students even as we work harder to ensure future convocations meet the standards imagined now,” related the body.
Moreover, the final suggestion put forth by the UGSS was the establishment of a permanent Convocation Committee which will function as a sub-committee of the Academic Board to consist of representatives from academic and support staff, students’ society, guild of graduates, and each faculty’s graduating class. This, they highlighted, can help to prevent future recurrences of such appalling outcomes.
With criticisms still pouring in following what was dubbed the “disgraceful” Sophia graduation, the University of Guyana’s Tain Campus in Berbice is set to host its Convocation, where more than 200 students will graduate on November 18. As such, the public will be closely looking on with high expectations of the institute correcting its recent mistakes.