To think that university graduation teams should cater for separated families?

(250 Posts)
DisappointedGraduate Fri 17-May-13 13:50:55

I will be graduating from medical school this summer and have been unable to secure an extra ticket. I therefore must tell either my Dmum, DSdad or Ddad that they cannot attend the ceremony. It's a long story, detailed in the below letter that I sent to the university, but the short of it is:

In this day and age, when many people who are graduating come from separated families, shouldn't universities make allowances to ensure that all of a graduates direct family i.e. parents & spouse can attend?

For anyone interested, below is my full story:

Dear Graduation Team,

I am writing to express my regret and dissappointment with the extremely poor organisation that has taken place regarding the ticket sales for ceremony 12

Due to the 'technical difficulties' I was unable to buy an extra ticket when they were supposed to go on sale last week. As it was so important to my family to get an extra ticket, I have been sat at a computer in the medical school constantly refreshing the graduation ticket sales page since 8.30am this morning.

Bang on 9am the site shut down due to 'high traffic', displaying the message in the screenshot attached to this email. I then constantly refreshed the page and tried restarting Internet Explorer all to no avail. I called the graduation team at 10.05am to be told that the extra tickets had sold out, however broadcast tickets were still available to purchased online. I tried to explain that for me, the site was not working (screenshot) and in this time the broadcast tickets also sold out.

I feel let down by the graduation team on three fronts:

Firstly: I imagine that demand for graduation tickets for medical school graduates is always high, as was the experience of collegues in the past two years of graduates. Therefore it would seem sensible to arrange a venue more suitable to meeting the demand for this particular cohort of students or to split the cohort into two ceremonies. The graduation team member that I spoke to on the phone said that uptake of tickets is variable, which I imagine to be true for other courses, but am highly sceptical that this is the case for medical graduations.

Secondly: I had anticipated a fair first-come first-served basis for buying tickets. This is not the case if the Graduation website is not built to be capable of sustaining the anticipated volume of traffic, so that not all students have a fair chance of accessing the site. This problem became apparent when the tickets first went on sale last week and obviously had not been sufficiently rectified before ticket sales were opened up again this morning, as evidenced by my experience.

Finally: In order to be at my computer at 9am (two weeks in a row), I have had to be late for an important clinical placement. Medical students on their medical assistantship placements (as half of them all will be) are expected to work the hours of a professional junior doctor. Opening up ticket sales when half of medical students should be on the ward seeing patients is at best unfair to the half of the medical student body on their Mast placement and at worse encouraging them to overlook their professional responsibilities. I was able to work late a previous evening (time away from my daugher) in order to be late this morning to buy tickets - not all Mast students would be able to do this.

I am in a situation, like many other students, whereby I come from a split family. I have a mother, a step-father and a father who have all equally been parents to me throughout my life. I also have a husband and daughter, however had already made the tough decision that my parents would have priority for attending the ceremony. I am therefore now in the impossible situation of telling one of my parents that they cannot attend my graduation. This is causing more heartbreak than the amount of joy that attending such an event is supposed to cause.

I am the first person in my family to attend university and during my time in medical school had to have surgery for endometriosis (a condition that threatened my fertility) and, on the advice of specialists, I conceived during medical school and went on to have my daughter. Completing medical school with my medical problems and a young baby has been long and very difficult and I am overjoyed to finally be able to graduate. It is such a shame that an organisational error and poor foresight on behalf of the graduation team has dampened this acheivement. I am not telling you this as a 'sob story' to try to make you magic tickets that do not exist. I am not that naive. Instead I am trying to make you understand that the students you are dealing with are real people with complicated lives and not just entitled individuals wanting their second cousins etc to attend.

In this day and age, I imagine it is very common for students to have more than two parents, not to mention spouses, and believe that it is the graduation teams responsibilty to understand and accomodate this.

The ideal outcome to these issues would be for the graduation team to increase the amount of tickets available by either splitting the cohort into two ceremonies or moving the ceremony to a larger venue, however I imagine that this is unachievable at this late date.

Therefore, I hope that this email provides food for thought and enables to graduation team to make much needed improvements to their services to avoid this level of upset and dissappointment for future years.

Kind Regards,

Disappointed Graduate

Ragwort Fri 17-May-13 14:07:08

'Heartbreak' because you can't attend a Graduation Ceremony - hmm - only on Mumsnet grin. I just can't believe you are taking it so seriously.

Quejica Fri 17-May-13 14:07:44

Is the ceremony broadcast on the internet or screened in other rooms at the university? Surely being in the actual room with you is only a tiny part of the day and your entire family will want to celebrate with you over the entire day.
They must all be so proud of you, don't let this over-shadow what is an incredible achievement on your part.

Congratulations! smile

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Fri 17-May-13 14:07:55

How many tickets do you have now?

Mumsyblouse Fri 17-May-13 14:08:40

What do you think a larger venue would cost? In man hours, rental, organization, just to accommodate graduates who cant work out who to invite?

These already are huge venues, do cost a lot of money, and lots of time and energy is spent trying to make this a special day, but with the best will in the world, some people would invite 10 of their close family if you let them and we can't have 5x as many graduation ceremonies to accommodate them.

As you know anyway, having graduated before, the ceremony is tedious, 2 hours of calling out lots of names, have the other relatives and husband and baby all standing by outside and have lots of photos of you in your gown/hat and go somewhere fabby for lunch- it can still be an amazing day and they will still get to join in with it.

scaevola Fri 17-May-13 14:09:06

I agree that if they use a online purchasing system it should work and cope with expected demand (though all sorts of events can get caught out on this one).

As the event is "heartbreaking" for you, perhaps better to cancel your attendance altogether and hold a private celebration.

"The graduation team member that I spoke to on the phone said that uptake of tickets is variable, which I imagine to be true for other courses, but am highly sceptical that this is the case for medical graduations."

You really think that parents of other graduates are less proud and cant be bothered to come and see their offspring graduate? hmm

How amazingly self absorbed and elitist of you! shock

CloudsAndTrees Fri 17-May-13 14:10:59

Your complaint about the website not being able to cope with high demand is valid. Your point about wanting three parents to attend is valid.

But your point about some students being unable to get onto the website at 9.00 is pointless. Presumably if you have three or more family members that are so keen to come to the ceremony, one of them could have made the time to get on the website. As indeed they should have done if you knew this could be a problem, and more importantly, you had placements to attend.

I also don't think you should have included the bit about your illness, or the fact that you have a husband and daughter. The illness bit sounds like you are trying to give them a sob story, which rarely goes down well, and the fact that you have parents and a family of your own is because of your own personal choices. It is nothing to do with them.

Your including these points makes your valid points lose credibility.

StuffezLaYoni Fri 17-May-13 14:11:18

I didn't go to either of my graduations. Wasn't important to me and I was too skins to hire a gown and buy smart clothes. My parents were still proud of me and continue to be so. It's really not that important.

sparechange Fri 17-May-13 14:11:27

Sorry, but you are being massively melodramatic and totally U

I'll be amazed if you can even remember the ceremony a few years from now. They are all hugely boring and akin to watching someone checking in for a flight

OrangeFootedScrubfowl Fri 17-May-13 14:11:50

You missed out on extra tickets, it's a shame, but that's the way it is.

I think the letter is way over the top, and it isn't their fault your computer didn't work, it sounds like everyone else's did. You are understandably disappointed that everyone you'd like to can't attend, but it's not that important in the grand scheme of things.

I looked pretty with a funny hat and a cape for mine!

I could not even bother go to my Masters graduation.

rainingcatsandsprogs Fri 17-May-13 14:12:44

Under the current system I think YABU, everyone gets allocated 2 tickets regardless of circumstances and sadly it's just the luck of the draw if you can't manage to get anymore.

However it amazes me that universities don't just outsource the whole thing and be done with it - they already outsource the gown hire so why not the guest provision too? A company already dealing in large events such as concerts could find and hire an appropriate venue and sell as many tickets as possible to whoever wanted them. The uni could perhaps allow/pay for one ticket per person or arrange for a discount for low incomes to allow everyone to afford to bring at least one guest but basically it should be a case of pay the going rate and bring who you like. It's what we already have to do for dc's sporting/performance events and although we have to save up carefully for them it makes it so much easier for the extended family - no more apologising for why auntie can't go or granny but not grandad, whoever wants to go pays and everyone has a good time!

TroublesomeEx Fri 17-May-13 14:13:25

Ha ha good one...

Oh, it's not a joke?

Everyone wants more than 2 tickets. They restrict it to 2 tickets so that everyone graduating can have 2 people there to support them.

I'm not really sure why your treatment for endometriosis would be of any concern/relevance/interest to the university when they were allocating tickets for the graduation ceremony.

In future, I'd take a deep breath and wait 24 hours before sending a letter like this.

Rollmops Fri 17-May-13 14:13:28

You have been sitting 'at your computer'hmm for countless hours trying to buy an extra ticket to a graduation ceremony?
Which medical school, pray tell. I do hope, for your future patients' sake, that the school in question teaches medicine to a higher level that reasoning etc etc.

When I graduated I wanted my parents and my five children there, plus my boyfriend at the time.

I didn't get it. There weren't enough tickets.

Nobody died. I didn't go in the end at all, went and got photos in my gown and had a slap up lunch.

And playing on illness and a small baby in your letter is ridiculous. Loads of people, myself included, attend university with children and health problems.

You should have gone to your placement as well - that reflects very badly on you.

ThatRuddyAbyssinian Fri 17-May-13 14:13:40

By describing the organisation as 'extremely poor' in your opening sentance, OP, you'll have immediately got the backs up of the university staff who work pretty bloody hard to ensure graduation events go without a hitch. Nice job.

firawla Fri 17-May-13 14:15:26

yabu - overreaction. letter is way ott

UptheChimney Fri 17-May-13 14:15:37

I understand your frustration & disappointment, but YABU. There is limited space and a lot of graduates. Often there's room for only 2 people to attend for each graduand. Whose visitors do you propose are not given their 2 tickets so you can have 3 or 4? Everyone has to choose -- I couldn't have my BF if I wanted both parents, and none of my siblings could attend, so you're not alone.

Most universities offer a streaming service outside their Great Halls, so the rest of your extended family can watch, and then you can ALL go to the reception afterwards.

TroublesomeEx Fri 17-May-13 14:15:55

And I'm not really sure what the difference between medical and other graduates is either. confused

Dawndonna Fri 17-May-13 14:16:33

I understand that you are tired and emotional. So are the staff sorting out the graduation ceremonies. You're not the only one, not the first, won't be the last. You have achieved, you've done well. Enjoy your day and let it go. The person that won't be able to attend will get over it. Arrange a family meal for the immediate aftermath.

UptheChimney Fri 17-May-13 14:17:28

Surely though, if there is limited space, they could either hold the ceremony in a larger venue?

Furthermore, what would you rather your university spent its limited (and decreasing) funds on? A bigger venue for graduation ceremonies (which generally cover about 2 weeks) or paying for highly qualified staff, good libraries and laboratories, facilities for students, bursaries etc etc?

And how DARE you suggest that anyone who is graduating with a non-medical degree is somehow inferior to you with your medical degree.

You sound utterly entitled.

DisappointedGraduate Fri 17-May-13 14:19:29

You really think that parents of other graduates are less proud and cant be bothered to come and see their offspring graduate?

Definately not! This is not what I meant by this sentence, I'm sorry if it came across this way. This sentence came from discussions with friends over the past couple of years on other courses who have reported demand not being as high at their ceremonies compared to the friends that I have that are medical graduates. My friends from other courses have been very surprised at the demand for our ceremony.

I realise my letter was a bit of a thoughtless rant, unfortunately it was written when I was a bit of an emotional wreck.

I understand that a line must be drawn somewhere wrt how many guests can attend. I just would have thought that nowadays, where it is no longer the norm to have the usual two parents, three tickets per person would be more sensible.

TroublesomeEx Fri 17-May-13 14:19:31

And you're not the only person to go to university with a child.

And plenty of people at university of all ages manage illness/bereavement/disability etc.

None of that should have any bearing on the allocation of tickets for a graduation ceremony.

TroublesomeEx Fri 17-May-13 14:20:43

But why 3 tickets per person? What if both parents remarried? You'd still be one short.

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