Graduands from the Business School acted in a ‘rude and entitled manner’ as they left immediately after their procession, a senior staff member involved in last week’s graduation ceremony has told Felix.
More than 3,000 students graduated last Wednesday in the first graduation ceremonies that family members have been allowed to attend since before the pandemic. Graduations took place across three separate ceremonies: one each for the Faculty of Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering and the Business School, Centre for Languages, Communication and Culture and Centre for Higher Education Research and Scholarship. The vast majority of those attending the latter ceremony were graduands of the Business School.
Following their procession, where the graduand walks across the stage and shakes hands with the Provost, ‘two thirds or more’ of those present left the Royal Albert Hall, along with their guests. This left the Hall without the majority of audience members when Honorary Degrees and Imperial College Medals were awarded. Recipients of these awards included Dame Kate Bingham, former Chair of the UK Vaccines Taskforce, and a number of long-serving staff members of the Business School who have spent their careers improving the experience of Business School students.
Furthermore, a posthumous award to a student who had sadly passed away during the year was received by a ‘tearful mother’ in front of a largely empty hall (see photo).
By contrast, livestreams of the ceremonies from the faculties of Engineering and Natural Sciences showed a largely full audience from start to finish, including in the areas reserved as seating for guests of the graduands.
Business School graduands have reportedly acted in a similar fashion in the past, where many have left the hall despite being asked not to by marshals at the event. As a result, the College found it hard to find enough members of staff to volunteer to marshal for this ceremony, with many specifically asking not to cover the Business School’s ceremony.
A source closely involved with the ceremony said ‘It was deeply disappointing to see the Business School students flocking out of the Hall as soon as they’d crossed the stage. It showed an appalling lack of respect and consideration for their peers who had had the patience to sit through and applaud them, only to graduate in front of a practically empty room. They were raucous and disruptive, taking selfies in the aisles on their way out. It must have been deeply embarrassing for the College, presenting honorary degrees (and one posthumous student award) in front of a sparse crowd. The students in every other Faculty have had the decorum to sit through the duration of their ceremonies, so it’s not clear why Business School students feel they can act differently’.
The same source drew a comparison between the behaviour of the graduands, and the behaviour of their parents who also left the hall in equal droves.
A Business School spokesperson said ‘We would like to apologise on behalf of the Business School for the behaviour of some of our graduands at last week’s Graduation Ceremony, which falls short of our values of community, collaboration and respect. We are already exploring, together with our students, the circumstances that influenced this unfortunate stuation and how we can ensure it does not happen again. We would lke to take the opportunity to thank all the organisers and volunteers for their hard work and dedication in putting together such a memorable event.’
Receiving honorary degrees at the ceremonies were Sir Samuel E Jonah, Dervilla Mitchell (CBE), Professor Sir Peter Knight (Imperial College), Professor Sir John Savill (Edinburgh University), and Dame Kate Bingham.
Receiving Imperial College Medals were Professor Maggie Dalman, Professor Alison McGregor, Joanna Thompson, Dr Benita Cox, Jon Hancock, Nick Moakes, Professor Nelson Phillips and Jon Tucker.