Sign the petition below to support our finalists, and share the link to lobby the University to change the Graduation Date. FAQs can be found below the link.
What is Graduation? Graduation is the ceremony that takes place in The People’s Palace in Mile End. This is the ceremony in which students are awarded their degree certificates.This ceremony is organised by Queen Mary University of London and symbolises the change from graduand to graduate. Each student is allowed to bring two guests at the cost of £25 each.
What is Rites of Passage? Rites of Passage is a ceremony that is run every year by the Barts and The London Students’ Association for our final year medical and dental students. It is a longstanding tradition, which acts as a farewell ceremony from the community which has been your home for the past however many years. In this ceremony we celebrate the achievements of our students and the contributions they have made to BLSA whether that is through recognising academic achievements or through awarding Colours, Blues and Association Honours for contributions to student groups. Another crucial part of the ceremony is the recitation of The Declaration of Geneva (the modern-day Hippocratic Oath) as one single cohort.
What is the Issue? In the past, due to the College’s willingness to cooperate, graduation has traditionally fallen across three separate ceremonies on the same date as Rites of Passage so medical and dental students are able to easily attend both. Unfortunately, Queen Mary University of London made the decision this year to move summer graduation ceremonies for all courses from the third week of July to the following week (beginning 23rd July). After BLSA made clear that this week clashes with foundation shadowing for final year medics (aside from not aligning with Rites of Passage date), the university moved the date to Friday 20th July.
Why is this a Problem? There are several issues with Graduation taking place on a separate date to Rites of Passage and on Friday 20th July: There are serious financial implications here. For example, having ceremonies on separate days means students will have to pay £50 for gown hire on each of the 2 days. This will cause much inconvenience to families in terms of expenses with travel, accommodation & taking two separate days off work. One of the advantages of the location of Rites of Passage at St Paul’s is that, due to the size of the venue in comparison to the People’s Palace at Mile End, graduands are fortunate to have more than two guests attend. We do not want families to have to choose which ceremony to attend. Most foundation year shadowing is scheduled to begin on Monday 23rd July. As a result, this date leaves little time to prepare for this. Furthermore, many medical and dental students will have moved away to begin their new jobs by this point, further increasing expenses. This situation may divide the cohort if not everyone can attend both events. This is something we want avoid as much as possible.
Why does ROP take place at St Paul’s Cathedral? The location change to St Paul’s Cathedral (from Charterhouse Square Lawn) came in 2015 after the university decided to refurbish the People’s Palace in Mile End, meaning that the capacity of the venue would decrease and so SMD students would not be able to graduate as a single cohort. Elected Officers within BLSA campaigned for the graduation ceremony to be moved to St Paul’s Cathedral so that Medics could graduate as a single cohort but the university did not allow this. After much campaigning and lobbying of the university, it was agreed that Rites of Passage would be moved to St Paul’s Cathedral. As a result, medical and dental students were able to have a final ceremony together as a whole cohort with a significant amount of family members in attendance. The prestigious venue of St Paul’s Cathedral, just across the road from Bart’s Hospital, makes for an incredibly special occasion.
What is BLSA doing on this issue? After Queen Mary University of London set the date of SMD Graduation to Monday 23rd July, BLSA alerted them to the issues with this and had already made clear the date for Rites of Passage. Following several discussions with the university, the date was moved to the preceding week, on Friday 20th July. This followed heavy lobbying to senior members of the university but there has been a refusal to move the date further to coincide with Rites of Passage on Monday 16th July. Unfortunately, we are unable to move the date of Rites of Passage as St Paul’s is not available on any other date around that time. This date was booked some time ago and the university was informed of this date. After meeting with final year course reps, the BLSA Board decided the only way to proceed was to invite Barts and The London students to help us lobby the university to change the date of graduation. The decision to lobby the university on this has also been agreed by Queen Mary Students’ Union (QMSU) Executive Officers. We have created this petition for all BL students to sign (as well as a box for any free text you would like to add) We plan to present this petition to the Principal of Queen Mary University of London to make a case for why this date should be moved.
What can you do? If you are in support of moving this date to give our final year students the graduation and Rites of Passage that they deserve, please sign the petition above. If you have any thoughts that you would like to add, please include these in the petition in the free text section. Come along to the BLSA General Committee Meeting, Tuesday 12th December in Milton Lecture Theatre to let us know your views on this and ask any questions you may have.