Members of the Engineering class of 2009 have been left angry after receiving the news that their graduation date has been deferred due to impending industrial action, receiving little over three weeks notice.
An email sent by the College to some members of the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science read: “A National Day of Protest has been scheduled for November 6, 2009. As such, it has become necessary to postpone all commencement ceremonies scheduled on this day.” Students were then informed of the news via email. The College believed these measures were necessary as it was “deemed prudent due to the likely disruption to the Country’s transport network, the expected demonstrations around the College en route to Dáil Éireann, and the possibility of reduced staffing levels.”
In an email addressed to the graduating class, Professor John Fitzpatrick, Head of the School of Engineering, apologised to the students saying, “I would like to let you know that the School made a very strong case as to why the date should not change, but with the overwhelming likelihood that there will be significant industrial action … reluctantly agreed that it would not be possible to go ahead with the ceremonies.”
Graduand Dani Pickett has said that the class were “disgusted” by the change of date and late notice given to students: “It really upset a lot of people and created uproar among the students.” She told Trinity News that a lot of people were not in a position to change their travel arrangements: “For example, there’s two guys living in Saudi Arabia and another who’s due to move to Australia who obviously won’t be able to make it.” EngSoc echoed this, saying “Changing the date of commencements has increased the costs of the already overpriced event, by forcing people to change their flight dates.”
Similar to Ms. Pickett, many graduands who have taken up jobs since leaving the College have already arranged for time off and may not be in a position to re-arrange their dates.
The College said that “the fee paid for commencements is fully allocated to covering the costs associated with the conduct of the ceremonies; therefore regrettably we are not in a position to offer compensation” to students who have had to make alternative travel arrangements. Students have been advised to contact their insurance companies to see if they can be re-imbursed.
The Registrar, Professor Jurgen Barkhoff, addressed the complaints made by graduands and their parents but said that the measures were necessary to “safeguard the integrity and logistics of hosting the ceremonies.” Professor Barkhoff offered to accommodate those graduands who could not attend the deferred date by allowing them to graduate in another ceremony on Thursday, November 5th. However less than 10% of the graduands availed of this option as they wanted to graduate together. Graduand Diarmuid Maguire stressed that, while “the whole situation has put an obvious downer on the graduation … it shouldn’t stop us from having a great time anyway!”
Professor Barkhoff concluded saying: “The College is conscious of the fact that the class spirit of the graduating classes is particularly strong and that the students place particular emphasis on being conferred together. It is deeply regrettable that the class has been affected in this way.”