u of t convocation

U of T students push for convocation to be postponed instead of cancelled

It's no secret that many of us have had to cancel upcoming plans and events in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, but missing your university graduation ceremony is no small loss.

That's why students at the University of Toronto are petitioning to have their convocation postponed following the university's announcement that all spring graduation ceremonies have been cancelled. 

"We have consistently relied on the guidance from public health authorities as we have navigated our way through the pandemic. Unfortunately, the latest guidance indicates that the need for physical distancing to limit or slow the spread of the virus will continue for some time," U of T President Meric Gertler said in a letter to graduating students Thursday. 

"It is for this reason that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel all Convocation ceremonies for the Spring 2020 season, previously scheduled to take place from June 2-19," he continued.

"Students who complete their degree requirements will still graduate and receive their degrees and parchments."

The news is certainly disappointing to those who've worked for four years or more to earn their diploma, and one U of T student started a petition requesting that convocation ceremonies be rescheduled to either November 2020 or June 2021 instead. 

"Today we learned that our UofT Spring 2020 graduation ceremonies will be cancelled and not postponed. Notably, we 'June 2020 graduates cannot attend a future ceremony,'" the creator of the petition wrote.

"We understand that the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented and that it is very difficult to make these decisions. However, convocation is important to both us students and our families."

The petition has been widely shared since it was created just one day ago, and it's garnered a whopping 15,307 signatures so far. 

And if the number of signatures isn't enough to prove that graduating students genuinely want to be able to celebrate their achievements at some point, comments on the petition certainly are.

"This is a lifetime event. If I miss this one, I would never have a chance to have it again," one student wrote

"Students work insanely hard and undoubtedly deserve that moment where they walk across stage and are celebrated for their achievements," another said.

In making his announcement, Gertler did reassure students that they're exploring possible alternative means of celebrating graduation and will be in touch with students as soon as possible with more information.

But according to a U of T News article, "the large size of the graduating class, the number of ceremonies involved and the limitations of Convocation Hall – both in terms of seating capacity and availability (it is used as a classroom throughout the year) – meant that simply postponing the event, in its traditional form, was not a viable option."

Several post-secondary schools in the province — such as York and Queens — have similarly cancelled spring convocation ceremonies due to COVID-19 while others — including Ryerson University — have yet to announce whether convocation will be cancelled or simply postponed.

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