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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

mnistooaddictive Fri 17-May-13 13:53:16

There is limited space, everyone has a reason why their need is the highest. Spend your energy on something worthwhile.

Llareggub Fri 17-May-13 13:54:33

The ceremony is really dull anyway. YABU.

StuffezLaYoni Fri 17-May-13 13:55:29

But... Presumably there is limited space? Surely if so, it's only fair to allocate a certain number of tickets per graduate?
I think it's extremely OTT.

QuintessentialOHara Fri 17-May-13 13:55:43

Seriously you should get a life.

MrsOakenshield Fri 17-May-13 13:56:19

what exactly is your solution to this? It is no different to any other ticketed event, there is a finite number of tickets, on sale at a specific time. It's just bad luck. Your personal history is also totally irrelevant.

EldritchCleavage Fri 17-May-13 13:58:56

No, sorry. There will never be enough room, this is the fairest way to ration it.

And I think your letter was pretty ill-judged.

DisappointedGraduate Fri 17-May-13 14:00:06

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

Seriously you should get a life

This course, whilst looking after my baby/toddler has been my life for a long time.

Mumsyblouse Fri 17-May-13 14:00:14

The hassle of graduation ceremonies for universities is already huge, we do 16 ceremonies across 4 days- do you suggest we run 32 so that everyone can come?! It is a shame not to be able to have everyone special there, but surely you can see that if you went with parents, step-parents, siblings, the odd grandparent, it's just too many people. I think we had three tickets though, 2 as standard and one extra if you asked for it.

I do agree their system for allocating extra tickets is extremely dysfunctional though and I suggest you focus on complaining about that rather than not being able to have all the tickets that fit your family (as really ideally you would have your husband there as well).

ArabellaBeaumaris Fri 17-May-13 14:01:16


ecclesvet Fri 17-May-13 14:01:30

What happens for people who are very close to their parents, step-parents and maternal grandparents? Should they get 6 tickets? And if they also want their older sister there as well, 7 tickets? At some point you have to draw a line. You got two tickets automatically, they put in a system that allowed for the purchase of extra tickets, unfortunately you didn't get one. Obviously the system did work because you admit that all the extra tickets were sold out.

Smartiepants79 Fri 17-May-13 14:01:53

These things are always the same. Starting with tickets to the pre-school nativity!
The venue is probably chosen for a myriad of reasons, main one probably being cost.
They could never find one big enought o fit EVERYONE that people wanted to be there.
I understand your family will be disappointed but it is quite a minor issue is the grand scheme of things.
And first come first served is not particularly fair if students have appointments etc. . Allocating 2 tickets per family is fair.
I had 2 parents and 4 grandparents and a sisters and a boyfriend who would all have like to be there, but.... They couldn't. They got over it!

goodygumdrops Fri 17-May-13 14:02:08

Heartbreak? Seriously? Its no biggie, honestly.

Can't you all just get together and go for a meal and celebrate after the ceremony?

Mumsyblouse Fri 17-May-13 14:02:33

Most graduations are in pretty large venues! There are 100's of people to get in and out safely (the crush is no joke) and start the next one quickly afterwards. It is a logistical nightmare. It is sad, but people also want their graduations in special buildings (cathedral, large concert hall) and not just the local gym, and so it is a balancing act.

I do think you should have been able to get an extra ticket though and I would call and ask the graduation team personally for one.

101handbags Fri 17-May-13 14:03:10

YABU. There is always limited space, everybody gets the opportunity to purchase the same number of tickets. I really don't think your medical history etc. interests the organisers of the graduation, sorry. Congratulations on your graduation, but really I think you've gone a little over the top here.

SirChenjin Fri 17-May-13 14:03:24

YABU - it's not up to universities to cater for absolutely every single personal situation that every single student has.

lebasi Fri 17-May-13 14:03:32

I have sympathy - whilst agreeing the ceremony itself is pretty dull, it is a symbolic event that means a lot to those who do want to participate and to their families. It might be worth writing to the Grad Office, but my advice would be to make your letter far shorter and far less personal - there will be many other students in a similar situation - and be prepared for a standard 'tough luck' response. There may be additional availability on the day as some attendees won't make it, but if all else fails, is your dept holding some sort of Graduation party that all of your family can attend? You could then ask someone to video the ceremony itself, and invite everyone else to the Grad party.

DisappointedGraduate Fri 17-May-13 14:03:45

And I think your letter was pretty ill-judged.

It may well have been, it was written when I was still upset. I may well have overreacted as I've had a week of sleepless nights, but the thought of having to tell one of my parents that they cannot attend made me burst into tears.

starfishmummy Fri 17-May-13 14:03:48

You are graduating from medical school and are supposed to be a grown up now: you sound like a spoiled child.

QuintessentialOHara Fri 17-May-13 14:04:03

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?

If this troubles you to the extent of such a long and pointless rant to the organizers, you need to look beyond your course, and your baby, and see if you can find perspective. It will do you good in your medical career.

But well done for graduating!

MrsOakenshield Fri 17-May-13 14:04:46

My parents came to mine. My sister and boyfriend (probably more important to me) couldn't, and I didn't get to go to their's. Such is life.

get everyone together for a meal afterwards, that'll be far more enjoyable than what is, at the end of the day, a pretty boring ceremony.

Again, your personal circumstances aren't relevant.

Mumsyblouse Fri 17-May-13 14:06:03

*Disappointed graduate*- oh dear, I can tell you are upset, but really it's not practical to have more than 2 plus perhaps one other at a graduation. I have four parents and step parents, some people have even more, plus your husband isn't going in! My husband didn't go in- he let my gran and mum go as he realised it would mean a lot to them.

Just contact the grad office and ask for an extra ticket, if they can find one they can find one, if they can't they can't.

holidaysarenice Fri 17-May-13 14:06:27

You do realise that story will out you to many?

Heaven help you when it comes to medical rationing.

Ideally you want 4 tickets, so does everyone. Doesn't happen. Make the day special in other ways.
Those not there can watch by video I'm sure

CSIJanner Fri 17-May-13 14:06:55

YABU - I've worked within a university and whilst as a team, we sympathised that not everyone you wish for can be there, you must also think of everyone else who is attending who will also have 2 tickets each. That's three seats for each graduation. Given that it isn't usually just your cohort that is graduating (universities tend to place schools together - if the school is too small, then it's added to others), then that's a lot of graduates and a lot of tickets for relatives plus staff. And graduation ceremonies cost a lot, especially when it's serval schools over a week. Ours last for 6 days, with a ceremony in the morning and afternoon. Plus then there's the extra special ceremony for overseas students who want their ceremony especially before they fly home. It's all ££ when, despite your fees, universities are usually flying on the cusp of red.

Not everyone can attend graduation as they fly home or have to work etc, so their tickets can be redistributed. Whilst it may seem unfair to blended families that they cannot have enough seats, how is it fair that a graduate, who parents are still together, cannot have three seats for their spouse, or grandparent. The system of two tickets per person is there to make the system fair. If you want another one, ask around your cohort to see if only one ticket is used, or alternatively, go through the correct channels and apply. You will more likely than not get the extra ticket you want.

What you can do is get in touch with the award/exam team and request an extra ticket even if the extra ticket sale has gone. Mind - that's a first one for me, as tickets are allocated where at our Uni and any extras are distributed out, not sold. To that extent and the unfair method they use to distribute, YANBU. But to request that an v expensive ceremony be split into two so that blended families can have more tickets is unreasonable.

And ask to be put on the list for an extra ticket. Some usually get released about a week or more before the ceremony.

LadyBeagleEyes Fri 17-May-13 14:06:57

Good heavens, that letter is ridiculous.
You didn't get an extra ticket, end off.

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