A university or polytech graduation is one of a very few times most people have their achievements celebrated in a ceremony.
It’s not just the short walk across the stage, the hand shake, and, for a first degree, the placing of the trencher on the head of the new graduate.
It’s the total ceremonial package as well as the time spent with friends for what might be the last time in years as people who have spent three or more years together go to further study or work in different places.
Many thousands of students had their graduations cancelled by Covid-19 and this week Otago University and Polytech students have had theirs cancelled for safety reasons.
Otago University cancelled Wednesday’s graduation ceremony after a specific threat:
. . . Police did not reveal the nature of the security threat or its precise timing, but said it related specifically to university graduation ceremonies.
University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne said yesterday’s decision to postpone was made quickly after a strong recommendation from police to do so. . . .
Polytech students have had to accept similar disappointment:
Otago Polytechnic said it made the “devastating decision” following advice from police..
Without knowing anything more than there was a threat which police, and the institutions, have taken seriously, it is impossible to know if they have overreacted.
The decisions to cancel wouldn’t have been taken lightly and the search for the culprit will be taken very seriously too.
It must be not just to hold the person or people responsible to account but also to deter anyone else who, for whatever perverted reason, might think doing something similar would be a good idea.
The threat to harm people should the ceremonies have gone ahead is bad enough, the threat to the freedom to do what we want to do, where we want to do it makes it worse.