Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor Ivelaw Griffith has admitted that the Sophia Exhibition Centre was not an optimal location for the university’s 51st Convocation.
Speaking with Stabroek News yesterday Griffith said that while student complaints about the space have been acknowledged the university did the best it could under the circumstances.
“The accommodation was the least best option when the size of the class and inclement weather made clear that using Turkeyen was not feasible. It really was the best of a bad lot,” Griffith said adding that the university had to enact repairs to the roofing and rehabilitate the washrooms to make it more suitable.
He explained that based on the timeframe, the Sophia space was the best of what was available for the afternoon ceremony.
Griffith also called for students to accept at least some degree of personal responsibility for what happened.
“Every graduate was allowed to bring four guests but most brought more. We didn’t go so far as to check for invitations. We didn’t ask that they be presented on entry and this exacerbated the issue. In this the graduates should accept responsibility and sense of ownership of problem,” he noted.
The VC added that based on the events of last Saturday the university may have to further divide the ceremony which was already been split in two for the first time.
“We don’t want to deny persons the opportunity to walk on stage, shake the Chancellor’s hand and be celebrated but we don’t want the ceremony to be so long [5 hours]. The morning session [3 hours] was optimal,” he explained.
On Saturday the largest graduating class in the Turkeyen Campus’s 51-year history graduated.
The administration, chose to host two convocation ceremonies—at 10 am at the National Cultural Centre and at 4.30 pm at the National Exhibition Centre at Sophia— to better accommodate the 2,165 graduates. Despite these efforts the afternoon ceremony where more than 1,300 graduates were recognised was marred by the poor accommodation.
The space was cramped and poorly ventilated leading to some guests having to sit or stand outside for the five-hour ceremony. Many left early and several subsequently complained on social media.
“What’s the point? You can’t hear, you can’t see. What are you celebrating?” one student asked.