A University of the West Indies (UWI) graduand, who prefers to remain anonymous, has raised concern over a decision by the university to host a virtual graduation ceremony this month, thereby reversing an earlier decision by survey to host the ceremony in the traditional face to face format.

The graduand said that earlier this year the UWI conducted a survey to determine the preferred choice of graduation format and the majority selected the traditional face to face ceremony.

“Surprisingly, a town hall meeting was held on the 13th of November to inform us that the graduation will be a virtual ceremony and that we have up to November 30th to register, and that headshot image should be taken by the 25th of November. We were informed of everything in short notice,” the graduand said.

The graduand said the UWI normally holds its graduation ceremony in the month of October; and in addition, the SVG Campus site holds its own recognition ceremony in the month of January. But, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Open Campus graduation was postponed to January 13th 2021, and graduands have no idea whether the SVG campus site will be having its traditional student recognition ceremony.

The source said that as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbados is in a position worse than St Vincent and the Grenadines and it is painful tha Barbados will be having a face to face traditional graduation ceremony.
The source noted what many Vincentians have been raising concern about the fact that during the increase in Covid cases St Vincent and the Grenadines has adopted a “business as usual” approach.

The source noted that people have been partying on weekends, there were mass gatherings during the recent election campaign season and at funerals as recommendations for wearing of masks in close-contact crowding situations and social distancing were ignored and continue to be ignored.

The graduand questioned on what basis will SVG not have a face to face graduation.

“On no level this can be right, this is not fair to us who would have spent tireless nights over the years to beat books and now have to settle to sit before our computers to watch piece of our heads on the screen,” the graduand said in apparent reference to what is said to be a condition where graduands will be allowed to use the graduation vestments for a short while to facilitate ‘headshots.’

“Even if the University of the West Indies chose to have a virtual ceremony, why can’t the SVG staff organize its usual recognition ceremony as it is accustom to doing? We need an answer.

To make it worse, up to this present moment as I am typing this, no one has emailed or called anyone to give us any information whatsoever as to what is required of us or what is happening. We do not even know when we are supposed to have this headshot taken,” the graduand complained.

The graduand said that during the town hall meeting wthey were told that the virtual graduation package cost US$50 and the package consists of one Image for the Virtual Ceremony, a Graduation Canister and use of Gown.

“Now note that the use of the gown is only for a few seconds just for the photoshoot (headshot) and should be removed immediately after taking that headshot.

We are asking for the SVG Open Campus site to communicate with us because no one is saying anything,” the graduand said. According to the graduand, colleagues are all asking for the traditional recognition ceremony to take place in SVG since there is not an issue with COVID-19 in this country.

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