The unfortunate premature release on social media platforms of our pre-packaged 2020 virtual graduation ceremony video has caused justified and understandable consternation.
This, in part, was due to a delay in the due and prior notification of the video to our graduates ahead of its release. There also seems to be an assumption that an event was held to mark the occasion and to which the graduates were not invited.
We appreciate that graduation is a significant milestone in any student's academic journey. A deep feeling of disappointment from not being able to mark, in the usual manner, your important personal academic achievement is on its own, very significant.
When the official graduation ceremonies, scheduled for April 2020, were postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University immediately began brainstorming a solution where we could still celebrate, in a meaningful way, our graduates' achievements. The virtual graduation video is an outcome of this process.
The video is made up of individually recorded segments that were put together in editing to form a virtual graduation. This was to reflect the COVID-19 pandemic context. At no point were any of the participants in the same space. The graduation video was a symbolic celebration and an important record for the graduates, their loved ones and the University.
The video was uploaded on YouTube in the evening of 7 September for testing and to create a hypertext link for the Vice-Chancellor’s letter to graduates. On the same day, a virtual graduation website, including links to the videos and profiles of the Honorary Doctorates was created.
Unexpectedly, the video was picked up and shared, ahead of the Vice-Chancellor’s letter that was to be distributed to graduates ahead thereof. The premature circulation of the video also preceded a planned promotional campaign. The result, understandably, was a distortion of the planned process.
We accept the criticisms as a result. All that was done was in good faith, a labour of love for our graduating students. For our serious missteps relating to what we should have foreseen, we sincerely apologise.
We hope that the day will come, soon, where we could invite our graduates back to campus once the threat of the pandemic sufficiently subsides for us to all be together and publicly celebrate their achievements.
Please help us to raise funds so that we can give all our students a chance to access online teaching and learning. Covid-19 has disrupted our students' education. Don't let the digital divide put their future at risk. Visit www.ru.ac.za/rucoronavirusgateway to donate