Durham University revises plans for graduation as encampment remains on Palace Green

By , Lily Gershon, and

Students have expressed concern to Palatinate about how graduation ceremonies will take place concerning Palace Green this summer, after the pro-Palestinian encampment still stands there.

The University has confirmed in an update, published on the 19th June, which reaffirms that “congregation ceremonies will take place in Durham Cathedral”, however, some plans for students’ graduation days have been changed from original plans.

The University emphasised that they have “been planning carefully to ensure a celebratory, enjoyable, and smoothly run graduation for all involved, as we always do.”

Concerns about graduation ceremonies were expressed after plans were changed for June Ball, due to the presence of the encampment on Palace Green.

University College students who were attending June Ball, which this year cost £90 for ents and £126 for dining tickets, were not present on Palace Green, as entertainment apart from a ferris wheel were relocated inside Durham Castle’s grounds. 

This decision was made by the College Office, not University security — Sebastian Braw-Smith, University College Ball Chair, told June Ball guests, “College Office made a pragmatic decision about the location of activities due to be located on Palace Green.” 

Palace Green has historically been used as part of students’ graduation ceremonies. “Traditionally, Palace Green has been the place for the post-ceremony photo-ops with proud parents and saying final goodbyes to friends and course-mates,” said Kieran, a Van Mildert finalist, “this could be the first university graduation in the history of many families present.”

Congregation ceremonies will take place in Durham Cathedral,

Durham university

One fourth year student from St Aidan’s expressed their concerns to Palatinate, saying: “I think the encampment will definitely impact my graduation” because of its presence on Palace Green, but they added that “I don’t mind so much as long as the University adapts to the circumstances and provides a similar experience.”

Multiple finalists expressed to Palatinate their fear that their graduation would be interrupted following two years of interrupted teaching.

One third year, who spoke to Palatinate before the statement was published by the University, “I support the encampment but I worry about graduation. As a finalist who has had one year affected by covid-19, another by the marking boycott, the lack of communication from the University is worrying.” The University has since contacted students directly via email, social media and signage, which also includes a commitment to keep in touch further with graduating students. 

The statement reaffirms plans for graduating students to be registered and robed in the Pemberton Building on Palace Green.

However, where prior plans were for students to be put into order inside University College, processing into the North Door of the Cathedral, opposite Palace Green, they have now changed so that they will enter the ceremony through the Cloisters at the rear of the Cathedral, but leave through the North Door.

Graduating students are invited to take part in Graduation pictures in Hatfield College, with space for refreshments and celebrations moving to the Castle. Plans had previously been in place for a Marquee to be erected on Palace Green for photography and refreshments.

The University finishes their statement urging graduating students to check their emails on 21st June as the “Ceremonies Office will contact all graduating students with detailed event information ahead of your ceremony.” 

The University has also advised students to also check a dedicated web page for the latest information. 

Image: Tim Packer

5 thoughts on “Durham University revises plans for graduation as encampment remains on Palace Green

  • They’re gone. This is extremely weird fearmongering from British people. Go vote reform on 4/7 if you genuinely think the people involved in the encampment would be some kind of threat to your summer graduation. Such a weird take.

    Reply
    • I think it’s a disgrace that they are allowed to camp on the palace green. The students study for so many years they should be able to use the green for their special day So therefore they should move the protesters off the place green

      Reply
  • Serve the ‘protesters’ with an eviction notice. Execute it efficiently and advise them that they are depriving others of their Durham experience.

    Reply
  • You can’t have it both ways. If you want the right to protest you have to expect disruption. The University should not make any changes to it’s plans due to the encampment.

    Reply
    • Totally agree with you Marcus.

      Reply

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