The university acknowledges that “a graduation ceremony is a major life event and we understand that many graduands were disappointed by the events that transpired”.

Wits University is considering hosting stage-crossing graduation ceremonies in April for graduates who did not get the opportunity to have a formal graduation in 2020.

All South African universities cancelled 2020 in-person graduation ceremonies due to the outbreak of covid-19.

In the absence of face-to-face ceremonies in 2020, former Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib convened an online meeting in which he conferred degrees on graduating students in absentia. The graduates then received their degree certificates by mail.

However, Witsies who missed out may have another chance in a first-of-its-kind ceremony, if covid-19 restrictions at the time allow.

In a letter sent out to 2020 graduates on February 8, registrar Carol Crosley said, “To allow [2020 graduates] the experience of attending a graduation ceremony and the opportunity to cross the stage, the university is considering hosting stage-crossing ceremonies.”

She said the stage-crossing ceremony, which would happen across all faculties, would give 2020 graduates “acknowledgement” for the work that they had put into their studies with their family members present.

According to Crosley, “The names of students will be read out and students will be able to walk across the stage. Students will walk past the vice-chancellor to the member of convocation. The students will then be allowed to stand in front of the convocation member for a photo (covid-19 protocols observed) before getting off the stage.”

SRC President Mpendulo Mfeka told Wits Vuvuzela that even though 2020 graduates were not pleased with the decision to cancel graduation ceremonies, which have great sentimental value, covid-19 had come and there was nothing the university could do.

“A lot of [graduates] would have wanted to celebrate what can be described as the greatest moments of their lives,” Mfeka said.

One of those affected by the cancellations is Lehlogonolo Modiba (22), who graduated with a triple-major BA. She told Wits Vuvuzela that the stage-crossing ceremony would be a bitter-sweet moment for her because it wouldn’t be the same.

“I have family that were supposed to come from Limpopo for my graduation in 2020. They might not be able to come to the stage-crossing ceremony because of covid-19 regulations. [Students] might be limited in the number of people [they] can bring, and this will take away the hype of a celebration,” Modiba said.

The registrar told Wits Vuvuzela that whether or not face-to-face ceremonies for the 2021 graduands will take place, will also be dependent on the national regulations regarding the number of people allowed at a gathering.

“The university is planning to have graduation ceremonies for 2021 later in the year (July onwards). The worst-case scenario, if we are unable to, then the university will have an online ceremony followed by stage-crossing ceremonies later,” Crosley said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Covid-19 restrictions are expected to limit the number of people who may participate in 2021 graduation ceremonies. Photo: File