The graduation trap.

Graduation ceremonies affect more than the students. It is one of those times when university cities fill up as families and the graduands return to get their diploma or degree. The ceremonies are now more explicitly medieval in their pagentry than whenever I walked over the stage — admittedly in a big town, where many things happen. In this year of COVID, every little event matters, and graduations are not little.

There is no more news about the events of yesterday.

The postponement of two University of Otago graduation ceremonies after a security threat will have a minimal impact on Dunedin’s economy, provided the culprit is quickly found, business leaders say.
Because most family and friends of graduates were already in the city when news of the threat broke just after 11am yesterday, accommodation and hospitality providers remain confident of a busy few days.

But any prolonged uncertainty could affect what is usually an economic bonanza for Dunedin, they say.

Thousands of people are expected to graduate at seven more graduation ceremonies, for the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic, in Dunedin over the next 10 days.

Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said he expected the vast majority of out-of-town visitors to carry on with their plans.

He hoped the uncertainty was quickly resolved so that people felt confident about travelling to the city for upcoming ceremonies.

“We don’t want people to feel unsafe in our city,” Mr McGowan said.

Such visitors provided a “huge injection” into the economy, and business owners would be concerned about losing another “lifeline” before Christmas.

“It’s been a hard enough year already without this.”

The trap here is that university towns rely too much on the student plus student family business. This will not work for much longer: some universities are going to go to the wall because they rely on out of country or out of state students, who won’t travel that much until COVID is gone (which will probably be a year away), and because they have too great a cost structure due to inclusion and diversity mandates.

And the activists (left and right) think that they have permission to interrupt things, which will make public ceremonies disappear.

The town has to be able to stand on its own. Dunedin used to have heavy industry. We would have been better to have kept it.


They have cancelled Otago Polytechnic graduation as well. So it was not one day: it was multiple days.

The University of Otago is hopeful its graduation ceremonies set for Saturday will go ahead, but a final decision will be made tomorrow.
In a statement this afternoon the university said it continued to work closely with police regarding the “security threat to its graduation ceremonies”.

Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said it was hopeful Saturday’s events would go ahead and graduands would be told of the university’s decision by early tomorrow afternoon.

It comes after Otago Polytechnic announced today it has postponed its graduation ceremony scheduled for tomorrow following a threat which led the University of Otago to abandon its ceremony yesterday.

Professor Hayne said the university acknowledged there would be some graduands and their families who needed to make a decision before noon tomorrow and accepted some changes may have to be made.

“If you decide not to attend the ceremony now, please let us know and we will give you the opportunity to participate in a special ceremony in 2021.

“This is not fully planned yet, but scheduling details will be known and communicated in due course.”

Meanwhile, the Otago Daily Times understands the correspondence that led to the graduations being abandoned included a threat of a shooting, but police this afternoon declined to confirm or deny that.

The polytechnic said this morning that following advice from police it had made the “devastating” decision to postpone graduation ceremonies scheduled for tomorrow and pre-grad ceremonies today and tomorrow.


Saturday’s graduation is off as well.

The University of Otago has abandoned graduation ceremonies planned for tomorrow as the fallout from a threat that included a warning of a bombing and shooting continues.
Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne announced the decision to abandon the graduations this morning after yesterday saying she was “hopeful” they would go ahead.

More than 700 graduands were set to graduate tomorrow. It means now more than 1800 graduands have lost the chance to graduate at Dunedin’s Town Hall because of the threar.

Meanwhile the Otago Daily Times has today confirmed with sources the warning was sent by email and also included a threat of a bombing.

Police have so far declined to comment on the nature of the threat.

The “specific and detailed” threat led the university to abandon two graduation ceremonies on Wednesday and Otago Polytechnic to postpone graduation ceremonies scheduled for today and pre-grad ceremonies yesterday and today.

University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne says having to postpone graduation ceremonies…
University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne says having to postpone graduation ceremonies was distressing. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
Prof Hayne today acknowledged the decision would incredibly disappointing and for that some this was their third attempt to graduate.

The Vice Chancellor reverted to Maori (as an American expat). Manaakitanga means Kindness. I guess our current government, who use “Be Kind” as a slogan while telling everyone to dob violators of social distancing in, have made the word kindess toxic.


All other graduations planned for this year have been postponed and the graduands noted to have graduated in absentia. That is a cancellation. I need to thank Hearthie for her email: she says such threats are routine, and prays that it is merely a bored teen shitposting.