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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

thegreylady Sun 19-May-13 08:58:06

When my dss graduated he was only allowed 2 tickets and I immediately recognised that the people who should have those tickets were his dad (my dh) and his mum. They attended the ceremony together and we all met afterwards for a meal. Everyone was happy.

wonderstuff Sun 19-May-13 09:09:44

I would be tempted to invite dm and DH, to avoid having to pick between your father and step father. I think that your parents are being unreasonable to put you in this position.

ballstoit Sun 19-May-13 09:10:54

I didn't go to my graduation...was allocated my own ticket and needed to purchase additional tickets on set day for anyone else. The day the additional tickets were released my nephew was having life threatening emergency bowel surgery and I missed the release as I was supporting dB, dsil and dparents.

I had a party for family and a couple of friends instead, it was fine.

trixymalixy Sun 19-May-13 09:24:42

Ugh I can't bear the attitude that medical graduates are more special than others. What is that about?

Two of my flat mates at Uni were medical students and always used the fact that they were medical students to argue for getting out of doing things around the flat and special privileges.

They looked down on the rest of us, and it was most pleasing years later to see the face of the worst offender when she realised that several of us who had done lowlier degrees earned way more than her.

ComposHat Sun 19-May-13 09:29:56

Ugh I can't bear the attitude that medical graduates are more special than others. What is that about?

With the exception of about three of them, the medical students were an insular bunch and on the whole a right bunch of arrogant self-satisfied tossers. (Not suggesting the op is one)

I live in fear of any of them treating me for anything more life threatening than an ingrowing toenail.

BonaDrag Sun 19-May-13 09:34:21




Nope, sorry OP, I am unable to locate my interest in your problem.

Ps: your letter is the most ridiculous, boring, entitled shite ever.

VinegarDrinker Sun 19-May-13 09:38:43

Where has anyone said medical graduates are more special than anyone else?

BestParentEver Sun 19-May-13 09:39:59

Bring them along anyway! At mine only my mum and dad had a ticket, but I invited along two sisters their husbands, and three nieces..... The Porter let them all sit at the back of the hall which was super nice and so they didn't miss anything.

This was at Bristol where people could queue for a chance of a limited spare seat.

I invited everyone so we could all share the day and have photos and stuff together. The actually ceremony is dull as anything, make a day if it.

Oh and congratulations doc.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 19-May-13 09:40:42


I was married when I graduated. So couldn't have dh, my mum and dad there as only allowed two tickets. So I just took dh.

I could be arsed to even attempt to get a third ticket. I had better things to do than apply, plus I think I had to pay.

I think in the situation you describe step parents need to be understanding of the (common) situation and accept that biological parents get preference. It is dull as ditchwater anyway.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 19-May-13 09:41:26

Also lots of unis now stream the graduation ceromonies live on the internet so people at home can watch.

VivaLeBeaver Sun 19-May-13 09:43:20

And if you're going to say 3 tickets you may as well say 7 tickets.

Plenty of graduates with a spouse, two kids and step parents.

VinegarDrinker Sun 19-May-13 09:44:16

Have people RTFT?

aurynne Sun 19-May-13 09:53:12

I HAVE read all the thread, and still can't get past the bit where the OP tells the whole university admin team about her endometriosis...

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 19-May-13 09:56:18

I liked DoctorDoctor's measured and calm reply - and also UniTookLong's - over-appologising is a double-edged sword in my view. Cheese's suggested re-write was very good though.

I hope MNHQ goes through this thread and slaps a few bandwagon-jumping legs, no surprise it's always the usual ones too... hmm

OP... Be proud of your achievement. In your predicament, I'd just be matter of fact that it's two tickets, that you'd like them all there but they can't be - and that it will be X and Y going and you'll all have a family celebration afterwards, book it now, it will be something to look forward to.

I had my mum at my graduation. When I graduated again I didn't go myself, did it in absentia. I hope the uni reallocated my tickets!

Congratuations... smile

BenjaminButton172 Sun 19-May-13 10:00:27

I have the same problem. I have a big family parents, siblings, nieces, nephews. When my dd has a school play or ceremony or other things she wants the whole family to come but the school only offers 2 tickets. It takes my dd FOREVER to pick who comes with me to the event.

However i wouldnt complain to the school about it because it is a small school with too many pupils so there is no room.

Sports day on the other hand is held outside & my dd ends up with a very large entourage grin

Journey Sun 19-May-13 12:05:51

I think you have a lot of growing up to do. Your letter is just a poor me one sided sob story. What worries me is you're going to be a doctor. I think you need to learn to see the bigger picture and get a grip otherwise you're going to be a very judgemental doctor who can't keep her emotions under wrap.

Get things into perspective and enjoy your graduation.

KhaosandKalamity Tue 21-May-13 11:32:35

YANBU as far as expecting their ticket booking system to work and allow you to book tickets. I thought that your letter was well thought out and highlighted an issue rather than simply attacking them. You were clearly not expecting them to split this ceremony, but to keep it in mind for future classes. None of the responses seem to take in to account the booking systems failure.

I find some of the posts on here slightly unreasonable though, I do not see the problem with someone who has noticed a serious flaw in the system pointing out said flaw to those in charge. Posts telling you to get a life, seem inappropriate to say the least. I signed up to MumsNet thinking it was generally supportive, but many posts I have read today seem quite harsh, with no actual advice or response offered.

BeckAndCall Tue 21-May-13 11:42:50

Does the university not stream the ceremony for those who haven't got a ticket? Not only for those who can't get there eg overseas families, but also in a separate hall close by for those coming to enjoy the day but can't get in?

You'll probably get a standard 'sorry you're disappointed' letter back. I hope no one in admin takes too much of their time addressing all of your points.......

MiniPenguinMaker Tue 21-May-13 12:00:30


University fees are really high, and it's a huge achievement to study medicine and graduate. I do think it's more significant than for other disciplines, given the amount of time and effort involved.

The graduation ceremony is where you get to celebrate your achievement in getting through it. I don't see why universities can't make the effort to spend a bit more money or time and allow a few more guests per graduate.

My sister is graduating from her medical degree this summer and I won't be able to attend due to guest number limits, but I'm pretty sure she is allowed 3-4 tickets as standard - we have a DM, DD, DSD, DSM and a DXSD!!! (not quite sure how that is going to work but I think she is trying to nick an extra guest ticket from a sympathetic friend with only two parents smile ...)

MiniPenguinMaker Tue 21-May-13 12:01:27

Oops I mean DF, DSF and DXSF... I guess I'm just more used to saying 'dad' than 'father' smile

PrannyHamster Tue 21-May-13 12:14:20

I used to work in a university graduation team. Trust me, everyone had a reason why they needed more tickets than anyone else (grandparents visiting from abroad, many siblings, friends want to come, etc etc). People also complained when they couldn't be in the same ceremony as friends on the same course due to there physically not being enough space in the venue for everybody. Unfortunately there just isn't always enough space for everyone to be given all the tickets they "need" for graduation. You still have the degree though, and most palces stream the ceremony so any other guests who can't be inside the venue still get to watch and have a nice lunch with you afterwards/pose for photos if you wish.

Remember- the graduation ceremony isn't compulsory and (at my university anyway) it was laid on free of charge and if there were any spare tickets we gave them out willingly! Not a big deal in the scheme of things!

DewDr0p Tue 21-May-13 12:39:36

I'm really curious as to why your dh isn't top of your list to invite OP?

That is how I would play it: invite dh and then add dm if you think that will play out ok with your df. If not then I'd stick to dh, ask the parents to look after dd and all go out for lunch afterwards.

Fwiw the nicest bit of my graduation was hanging out on the green with uni friends and family afterwards, taking photos etc

slug Tue 21-May-13 12:45:54

MiniPenguinMaker, you do realise, don't you that universities are not receiving any more money as a result of students paying university fees? All that has happened is the govt has removed funding from universities and the fees are charged to make up the shortfall.

ephemeralfairy Tue 21-May-13 12:52:17

I was allocated two tickets for my graduation. It turned me into an EMOTIONAL WRECK because my daddy is dead and I didn't want my mummy to have to attend and sit on her own and be sad. There was another girl who was also an EMOTIONAL WRECK because she had TOO MANY PEOPLE TO LOVE and she couldn't decide who to invite. So I gave her both my tickets and she was happy and my mummy and I didn't go to the boring ceremony and went out for lunch instead and we all lived happily ever after.


musicismylife Tue 21-May-13 13:08:05

I wanted my mum, sister and partner to be there at the birth of my baby...I was told that only two could witness it. I wrote a huge long letter (nearly as long as yours) ranting and raving. Until someone pointed out IT IS THE SAME RULE FOR EVERYONE.

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