Graduation is an important time for all students, in essence it is everything that they have been spending the last 3 years working for and I believe that it should reflect this, and the fact that graduating University really is a huge life milestone.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure graduation is nice, how can it not be? Yet I sit here and feel that it lacks gravitas. We are often reminded that here at Southampton we are at a world class university and certainly one of the highest ranking in the United Kingdom. So I bring myself to ask why it is that we graduate in the Turner Sims gallery. I’m not having a go, really I’m not. Some graduates say that they really like graduating on campus and that it somehow just feels right to graduate in the place where they studied with the people who they studied with. And here we have the first real problem – the Turner Sims is only big enough to graduate one subject at a time and if you study Geology that is fine and it’s nice. My housemate for instance studies Geology and he’s looking forward to graduating with his class; most of his friends are geologists and his girlfriend is a geologist – in essence his University experience is lived through Geology. The same can be seen for many sciences, they are often specialised; which is helpful; and there are a lot of contact house, helping people to really get to know the people on their course, these are the people who they form the closest bonds with. Fair enough.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Humanities students, or indeed the Social Sciences. My year has something along the lines of 300 students and with only 4 hours of contact time a week, it’s safe to say that though I recognise a fair majority of them I don’t know most of them. At all. I have many a history friend, it’d be fairly sad if I didn’t, and yet history students don’t make up the majority of my friends. I live with no other historians, my girlfriend is not a historian, my society friends are often not historians. My University experience is lived outside of my subject. The same can be seen with English students, with Applied Social Science students and many more. I’d say that due to the very little contact time that Humanities have, and their [no offence]pretty crap societies (there aren’t really many ‘History Socials’) a higher proportion of our friends end out to not study what we study and therefore why is it that we graduate only with people who we will happen to have the same degree title as. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a much bigger graduation ceremony whereby I’m graduating with many more of my friends.
The issue here is space. As I said, the Turner Sims can only hold so many people (not very many people) and therefore to have a larger ceremony we’d need somewhere else to graduate. Could this be done under Gazebos on the grounds of the University? Maybe. Personally I would rather graduate somewhere big however; my two personal preferences are either the Guildhall, which is where Solent students graduate, or Winchester Cathedral. The reasons for Guildhall are fairly obvious; it’s big, it’s nearby and it is an old and quite impressive building. However, my top preference would actually be Winchester Cathedral. This is another massive space which could hold much larger ceremonies, is of breathtaking beauty with its differing architectural styles, is local (10 miles or so from the University and technically in Southampton) and also would make those studying at WSA feel more a part of the University of Southampton.
This isn’t just me, many people I’ve spoken to feel the same way – that graduating in the Turner Sims with a few other students isn’t fitting to the status of our University and also doesn’t really reflect the amount of work put in to getting our degree. On top of this, we want to graduate with more friends, more people who really completed our University experience. I’m not expecting any change to be made, but perhaps this is food for thought. Are you happy graduating in the Turner Sims or would you rather graduate elsewhere? Please comment below or even write an article about your opinion if it differs from this one![poll id=”10″]