In recent news, a Change.org petition has gone viral around the University, with students voicing their opinion on graduation in the Minster compared to the traditional ceremony that takes place in Central Hall. At the time of going to print, the Minster petition had nearly 4,500 signatures compared to the mere 19 supporters of keeping graduation in Central Hall.
The University has previously agreed that ceremonies cannot take place in the Minster because of the diverse range of faiths in the secular student body. However, York St John University students graduate in the Minster because of their strong Christian foundations. This is seen as unfair by York University students, especially as many students of a non-Christian background expressed that the Minster would not alienate anyone, and offers an unparalleled experience that really cannot be obtained anywhere else.
Responses from students at the University seem to be pretty divided. Adam Jordan said, “It’s a joke that we don’t graduate in the minster.” Niall Durrant commented: “It would feel more formal to graduate in the Minster. However if they moved the graduation to the Minster now, then it’s a shame that so many students missed out.”
Other students didn’t really care about the petition. Jason Nolan had this to say: “I think the whole idea of the petition is a waste of time, they won’t change it. Besides, the University isn’t affiliated to the minster in any way.” Kevin Holmes added,“If we don’t graduate in Central Hall, then what will the building really be used for?”
I have only been in Central Hall three times in my University life, most notably for the induction fire talk in first year – and that didn’t make much of an impression on me. Do people really want to graduate in a building that reminds them of painful exams? Or would they rather graduate in an iconic landmark?
Graduating in the minster has it’s attractions. First and foremost it’s a much prettier building than Central Hall – photos would look more spectacular in the Minster gardens. Additionally, it can accommodate a larger number of people, which beats the two tickets per person that Central Hall offers. I don’t want my family to travel hundreds of miles to be stuck watching me graduate on a screen in Physics.
The Minster offers an additional attraction to prospective and international students. An additional bonus is that being located in town, all the attractive bars and restaurants are right on the doorstep. For me, the Minster reminds me of my family as my dad and I would take advantage of it’s free entry (for students) at the beginning and end of each academic year. I’d personally like to end my University career how I started it.
Universities like Oxford and Durham have allowed students to graduate in their cathedrals, yet here we are not allowed to take advantage of arguably the most spectacular building in York. This seems a real shame to miss out on what could be such a prestigious occasion. At £9,000 a year, I want my graduation to be as memorable as possible.