Drastic Changes to Convocation Ceremonies Proposed, Feedback Invited

It is a day we all look forward to. Walking down the aisle in our flowing green gowns to receive the honour we have spent the last four years working for.

Convocation is a very important tradition at Trent University, and has been held on Bata Podium since 1967. The campus is undeniably gorgeous and it is only natural to hold the ceremony outside where the guests can bask in its full beauty.

However, there is a huge downside to this arrangement, as it leaves us vulnerable to the elements, which in Peterborough can be erratic at best. Therefore a new weather plan has been recommended for the up coming convocation.

Three additional ceremonies will be held so that each ceremony is small enough to allow all the graduates and guests to be seated in the gym in case of inclement weather. This will allow every graduate to invite as many guests as they would like without them having to view the convocation via a live stream in a secondary cool room.

Each ceremony will hold 225 students with a limit of four guests per student. The convocation office will research the option of issuing tickets incase of poor weather conditions. This new plan comes with a fresh host of both benefits and challenges.

On the upside all guests will be able to attend the ceremony in the same room on campus as opposed to it being moves of to the Peterborough Memorial Center. This will allow parents to view the campus as well as reducing the budgetary implications.

The ceremonies will be shorter, and if you have ever had to sit through a four hour graduation ceremony, this is an improvement you can greatly appreciate.

This option will also allow us to maintain the tradition of having the ceremony outdoors if weather allows.

Coupled with the convenience of having staff on hand who are experiences with handling the fine details of convocation, this seems like a rather beneficial improvement to the graduation process. However, there are some challenges that can be anticipated.

The biggest concern for most students would be the associated guest limit per graduate. Many students have family and friends travel from very far just to attend the convocation, and it would be a great inconvenience at the least.

It would also cause confusion as most students are used to a limitless guest option.

With this option, students will no longer process across the traditional Faryon Bridge, and will instead have to process across the LEC/Stephenson bridge. According to budgeting forecasts, the increase in ceremonies would result in a $15,000 increase in convocation costs.

Although a lot of thought has gone into this recommendation, it is not set in stone. There are still several options available to us.

The ceremonies could be moved to the Peterborough Memorial Centre (PMC), Evinrude Center, or Showplace.

Although the PMC can hold up to 3,900 and Showplace can hold up to   967, there is no available space for gowning. It would also eliminate the personal Trent experience. The highlight of Trent is the beautiful and sustainable campus, having the convocation away from campus would rob students of their chance to form the perfect hallmark memory of the university career.

Moving convocation off campus would also raise costs by upwards of $30,000.

A fall ceremony could be held in the hope that it would reduce the amount of students in the spring session. However, this would only reduce the student numbers by about 200, which would barely make enough of a dent to solve the problem.  There would also be an increase in costs of about $18,000.

The final option would be to hold the convocation in Wenjack theatre. Wenjack holds a maximum of about 416. Assuming an approximation of about 8,000 students, this would quickly turn into a logistical nightmare with at least 19 ceremonies required. Guests would also have to be very limited.

Students are invited to provide feedback by October 14.

Please go to www.trentu.ca/administration for the full recommendation and President Franklin’s report on the issue. Please email convocation@trentu.ca in order to offer your opinion, comments, inquiries or any suggestions you may have.