By Bibiana Lebersorger, News Reporter
The University of Bristol has recently announced that the Spring 2022 graduation ceremonies will no longer be held at Wills Memorial Building, and instead will go ahead at Ashton Gate Stadium.
For many University of Bristol students, a graduation ceremony in the historic Wills Memorial Building is an exciting event to look forward to - a chance to celebrate and come together with friends and family.
However, the University has recently decided to break from tradition and change the location of the 2022 graduation to Ashton Gate Stadium.
It has been confirmed that graduation ceremonies for the July 2020, February 2021, July 2021 and February 2022 cohorts will take place between 4 April and 14 April 2022 at Ashton Gate Stadium.
Following the announcement, a group of graduates have clubbed together to create an online petition to ‘Hold Bristol Uni Graduations at Wills Memorial’.
The petition has over 1,450 signatures, at the time of publishing.
As the petition gains traction, many disappointed graduates have taken to social media to voice their frustration at this decision:
My graduation being moved from the Great Hall of Wills Memorial Building to a completely disconnected football stadium miles from campus is heartbreaking.@BristolUni the message couldn’t clearer; you just want us out the way, en masse.— Nicola (@nichowardd) November 2, 2021
The pandemic cohorts deserve better. pic.twitter.com/ybvYbakv2z
One Liberal Arts graduate speaking on the matter told Epigram ‘Having a graduation ceremony months after most other universities (who managed to have their ceremonies in summer without any issues) wasn’t bad enough, deciding to host it in a stadium at the other end of the city that most of us never visited while we were studying in Bristol is just embarrassing.’
Speaking to Epigram another graduate commented ‘I was honestly quite sad to hear about the rearranged graduation venues. When other unis have managed to successfully host graduations, this feels like a last minute budget saving exercise to secure future alumni funding.
‘Being promised Wills Memorial and ending up at a venue to which I have zero emotional attachment makes me quite angry.’
An English graduate told Epigram ‘My course ended in June this year - I’m reluctant to say ‘I graduated’ as I struggled to find a sense of finality or achievement. My degree technically came to an end as I clicked ‘submit’ on blackboard one last time and returned my stack of library books. We received an online ‘celebration’ event that we were assured was not a graduation replacement (thank god because it was essentially a live-streamed powerpoint).
‘I think we’ve all been excited for the prospect of coming back and attending the graduation ceremony we’ve all pictured - in the Wills hall. Ashton Gate is a place most students have never been; we feel no connection to it. Wills is a marker, walking through it reminds us of our ties to the past and our achievements in getting to Bristol and completing our degrees here. Being denied the opportunity to feel part of the university’s history is saddening, and makes me feel undervalued by the university.
‘We’ve all noticed the steps towards commercialisation that the university has been taking, moving away from what is best for its students and instead focusing on business models and money-making. I think that the move of graduations to Ashton Gate is another example of the university choosing quantity over quality. Being herded through a stadium few of us have ever visited will feel far from a meaningful celebrations of our time here.’
Featured image: Epigram/Isobel Turner | Unsplash
What do you think about the University of Bristol's decision to change the location of graduation ceremonies from Wills Memorial Building?