Dear members of the McGill Community, Convocation is a time filled with emotions, nostalgia, and even some mental strain, for all those involved. In the Faculty of Arts, efficient planning and execution of the ceremony are doubly important, as the Faculty holds two days’ worth of ceremonies. Although it is planned for each ceremony to last approximately two hours, an experienced estimate would argue it is actually three.
This, in addition to other important information brought to our attention by a certain group of ushers, who patiently repeat the same information over and over again to students and invited guests, has prompted the writing of this brief reminder list. We hope you appreciate the advice given here, and that your families will join you in noting our tips on how to make convocation a smooth experience for us all. For all details related to convocation, be sure to visit the Convocation and Graduation website here.
- Come prepared, which means empty-handed: no phones, wallets, backpacks, coffee, or anything other than your line-up card, graduating gown, and cap, which can all be picked up at the designated pick-up areas starting Monday, June 4th.
- In case you fled campus the moment you finished exams, or forgot to reserve your regalia, there will be a limited number of gowns available for rent on-site. Arrive two hours before the start of your ceremony, and have your student ID with the $45 rental fee on hand. If your regalia is not returned (however early you picked it up), the charge is a hefty $210 dollars – almost twice what it takes to replace your diploma and all that it represents!
- You should register beforehand, but no need to panic if this slipped your mind. There will be staff on-site specialized in dealing with the stress of students who realize last minute they failed to register in time. In this case, your name will be called at the very end of the ceremony. The crowd should still have enough energy to cheer you on as your cross the stage.
- Weather-permitting, convocation will take place in a giant outdoor tent with a capacity of 5000. You are allowed up to four guest seats inside (first-come, first-serve). We encourage you to finalize your guest lists by talking with your loved ones about whose physical presence in the tent is most valuable. Those who do not make the cut can still enjoy the ceremony on livestream.
- As it is McGill tradition to have a highly visible procession of students, it will begin around the enclosed space of Redpath Hall. Loud bagpipes will be leading your way.
- You will not receive your diploma onstage, or from Principal Fortier. Instead, once you reach her at centre stage, you will only have a few seconds before being cued to walk off by a tap on the head with a wooden stick. Think of it as the university equivalent of being knighted.
- If somebody makes some kind of protest, don’t roll your eyes or think it’s out of place. In 1888, Octavia Ritchie, valedictorian of the first group of women undergraduates at McGill, walked onstage despite Principal William Dawson’s ban on women delivering speeches to male students, from the same rostrum as them.
- Your diploma will be handed to you offstage, by a Chancellor standing in an obscure but somewhat visible side. It might be wise to explain to your family beforehand where that is, so that they have ample time to position themselves with their cameras and be ready to snap pictures of the moment.
- Find a way to stay hydrated that doesn’t involve water bottles (see rule 1), especially plastic, as McGill recently issued a campus-wide ban on plastic bottles.
Find your convocation ceremony and other related details on the Convocation and Graduation website here.