Convocation returns to tent Wednesday (Update 8:35 p.m.)

Wednesday’s Science Convocation ceremonies will go ahead as planned in the tent on the downtown campus’s lower field. After severe weather forced the evacuation of the tent during the Arts ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, the tent professionals are examining and repairing the tent as needed. It was determined that the tent will be ready for the 10 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday.
An Arts grad takes a selfie with classmates in Leacock 132 after a violent storm forced the evacuation of the Convocation tent. / Photo: Owen Egan
Arts valedictorian Rebecca Freya Pearl takes a selfie with classmates in Leacock 132 after a violent storm forced the evacuation of the Convocation tent. / Photo: Owen Egan

Wednesday’s Science Convocation ceremonies will go ahead as planned in the tent on the downtown campus’s lower field.

After severe weather forced the evacuation of the tent during the Arts ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, the tent professionals are examining and repairing the tent as needed. It was determined that the tent will be ready for the 10 a.m. ceremony on Wednesday.

The tent was not broken and did not collapse. Some poles were shifted as the result of an extraordinarily powerful storm. Weather conditions for tomorrow are looking much more promising.

The tent will be at capacity for both Convocation ceremonies tomorrow, so there will be no opportunity to re-run Tuesday’s Arts event. However, any Arts student who wishes to repeat their Convocation experience may do so at any Convocation of their choice, in any year, starting this fall. Please contact convocation@mcgill.ca if you wish to “re-convocate.”

We are deeply sorry that some parents and guests will not have the opportunity to watch their sons and daughters cross the stage on this important day, but the violent weather left us with no choice but to relocate the ceremony. There are no halls indoors large enough to accommodate that many people and we must abide by Fire Code regulations. We apologize sincerely to those who were  inconvenienced.

The University would like to thank all those who worked hard to salvage Tuesday afternoon’s event, under trying circumstances. These were exceptional circumstances and exceptional people responded accordingly. Our priority will continue to be everyone’s safety.

Some personal items were left behind in the tent. They have been recovered and are being kept in safe keeping at McGill’s Security Services offices on the main floor of Burnside Hall.

If there are further updates to our Convocation plans, we will post them here as soon as possible, so please check back between now and Wednesday morning.

 

 

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Laurie
Laurie
7 years ago

Shameful to have your son or daughter attend your school for 3 to 4 years and not to be able to see them graduate. I feel sorry for the parents who have come in from far away. 3 years ago my son graduated and we were ankle deep in water from the rain. Time to rethink your outside on the campus graduation in a tent. McGill should have a back up plan, not like this is the first time students and parents have had to sit through rain and cold weather. Bring it inside like Concordia does at Place des… Read more »

Gab
Gab
7 years ago

I was inside that tent today. I am so disappointed of McGill’s handling of the situation. I was unable to even relocate to LEA132 as they were over capacity, so I could not experience the ceremony that I have worked extremely hard for. I believe they should re-do the ceremony the RIGHT way. These outdoor ceremonies are ridiculous… On another note, the Chancellor of McGill made a very distasteful joke about Arts students and unemployment which left a sour taste in my mouth. Way to perpetuate an awful, untrue stereotype. Once again, I am deeply disappointed by this experience at… Read more »

Susan MacDonald
Susan MacDonald
7 years ago

As a parent who did not get to see her daughter cross the stage today all I can say is that it was a disappointing day for our family. I think McGill needs a better plan for grad ceremonies.

Daniel
Daniel
7 years ago

I echo Laurie’s comments. Storms are not unusual occurrences and this one had been predicted by weather forecasts since last week. That McGill has failed to plan a more resilient convocation strategy is embarrassing and, as a student of 4 years I can say, unsurprising. The blame for this rests entirely on the university, not on the weather. Not that I would expect McGill to step up to the plate and accept responsibility. Absolutely shameful.

Esther
Esther
7 years ago

I flew in all the way from the UK to see my brother’s convocation. Sadly, I did not get to see him receive his degree. It’s a real shame that the convocation organizers did not have a Plan B for any disruptions to the ceremony. The blog entry also conveniently neglected to mention how dangerous it was for the guests and graduates inside the tent during the whole ordeal: there were serious structural failures – the side poles holding up the tent were collapsing around us and many guests had to hold them up to ensure the storm didn’t knock… Read more »

Debra
Debra
7 years ago

Shame on you McGill. Third rate venue for a first rate university. Laurie above said it all. Driving home to Toronto now and so disappointed.

Vera
Vera
7 years ago

My husband and I missed our daughter’s convocation due to the lack of organization. Nobody knew where to go, as the intercom was not used and people were visibly confused. Knowing that this is not the first time this is happening, I am very surprised that McGill didn’t think of an alternative (renting out an indoor location near McGill, or having more days with smaller groups so that convocation can be held indoors, etc). I understand that this would inconvenience the personnel, but days like this also severely inconvenience us. This was a great milestone in our daughter’s life and… Read more »

Lisa NYC
Lisa NYC
7 years ago

Shame on the McGill administration that not only had no back up plan, nocontingency plan of ANY kind but even worse created extremely unsafe conditions for students families and the few faculty members who managed to make it though torrential rain to the much too small halway we were sent to. No one was in charge. There was no leadership, no accountability and no one in Security had anything to do with the announcement to send thousands into a hall that hold 600. I am thoroughly disgusted by the ineptitude on display today. Not only was every fire and safety… Read more »

Veronica
Veronica
7 years ago

The tent poles did not “shift.” The straps snapped on three of the poles. The poles themselves were not in the ground, but were sitting on top of the ground and tied down. When the three straps broke, the poles lifted and the wind pushed the tent down into the seating area. The faculty response was too delayed, the security prevented people from using an open exit, and told those helping support the tent to stop doing so despite the fact that none of the students had been told to leave but were told to remain seated.

Alejandro
Alejandro
7 years ago

We are very disapointed; everybody know the weather in advance and McGill should organize much better this important event. Our daughter could not receive her diploma like the other ones. McGill must organize another venue for this group asap and do not wait for a semester or two to give them the opportunity for a proper Convocation ceremony. Our daugther’s dream for a graduation ceremony has broken.

Jane Fletcher
Jane Fletcher
7 years ago

My graduating daughter’s father and grandfather flew in from California. My husband and I almost changed our plans to fly in from South Africa but decided (thankgoodness) to watch it on the live feed and communicate with my daughter via real time text. She changed her working and travel plans specifically to return to Montreal to attend graduation. We had no idea such an important ceremony would be held in a tent in a city whose weather is famously unreliable. With so many indoor venues in the city, McGill, as a ‘first class’ university, should be able to arrange a… Read more »

Caroline
Caroline
7 years ago

I’m still a student at McGill and haven’t graduated yet. What happened really worries me. I feel so bad for those who weren’t able to celebrate one of their most important days in life. At the same time it makes me doubt if I will be able to have a perfect convocation when I’m going to graduate. The fact that no changes have ever been made is disappointing. I thought McGill could be better than this. Don’t blame it on the weather. At some point, McGill should step up and take serious responsibility for what happened. Hopefully things will change… Read more »

Donald Abbott
Donald Abbott
7 years ago

As someone who, with a group of others, was in the tent attempting to prevent one of the main posts (not one of the posts on the side-but a main post in the centre of the tent) from further shifting, I am surprised McGill is going ahead with another convocation in the tent. The tent should have been engineered to withstand the winds we experienced yesterday but was not. Pretty clear to me given the shifting of the main posts that this is not a sound design. Why risk the lives of others by holding more ceremonies in it?

Nicolas Magnien
Nicolas Magnien
7 years ago

I was fortunate to have my convocation in the morning, as I was expecting that horrible weather but it never came for us… I feel so sorry for all my friends and fellow graduates in the afternoon that this meant-to-be important day was not handled more properly. As a two-degree graduate student who was seated in the wrong section, I can say it does seem unfortunately like convocation services are struggling to get things to work smoothly at our university. Hopefully, in a couple of years, we all laugh about these memories…

Joseph
Joseph
7 years ago

While we’re all disappointed about missing our children’s graduation I have to comment on how well parents reacted to ensure the tent did not collapse on people. Many of the support straps on the east side of the tent snapped when a violent burst of wind swept in and nearly lifted the tent. The side of the tent started to collapse and the internal support pillers wavered swaying the tent. Of concern was the large screens hanging from the ceiling which swayed back and forth. Parents rushed to the side of the tent and held up the side supports while… Read more »

George Sfeir
George Sfeir
7 years ago

Dear McGill President; I am one of the parents who were at the Tent Convocation ceremony for graduates of Bachelor of Arts. I was not impressed with the tent set-up from the moment I arrived. There was no way for parents to see their loved child sitting to get their diplomas. The stage was small and the tent was very long. It was hard to see and experience the celebration regardless where the parent sits. My suggestion is that McGill should move graduation ceremonies to a theatre/stadium where the stage is large enough and the graduates could be seen sitting… Read more »

Linda
Linda
7 years ago

As a McGill employee, I’m embarassed and disappointed by how this all played out, too, and very sorry for those whose graduation was spoiled by poor planning on McGill’s part. This “lawn party” graduation event is a legacy of the previous Principal and I think it’s time to revert back to an indoor venue. Yes, some graduating students and parents get to enjoy a lovely event when it’s warm and sunny (but not humid), but everyone should have an equal and memorable occasion for graduation – not just those who are lucky enough to draw good weather. Besides which, I… Read more »

LM Eddy
LM Eddy
7 years ago

I can’t believe that McGill would not have a plan B for inclement weather. How disrespectful to students who worked so hard and their families. I can totally understand the disappointment for those who were part of this event. Congrats to the graduates, but really McGill….this is terrible!

Camila Muriel
Camila Muriel
7 years ago

I was graduating yesterday at this convocation, and I am shocked by the media’s coverage of events. ”The tent was not broken and did not collapse” My family were unfortunate to be under the section of the tent that fell on them. My grandma, 85, was injured to her shoulder, while my dad hurt his arm when holding the post so it wouldn’t collapse. I think people’s safety was under serious threat yesterday – there were a lot of elderly people, even people walking with canes. The tent was not safe, nor were the conditions outside when moving from the… Read more »

JLN
JLN
7 years ago

As parents of a first time graduate, we were exremely upset by yesterday’s disaster. I was in the tent and cannot believe the fear and panic that came about. Although there may be many more ceremonies for our child in the future, this was to be the first and very special event for us, having waiting all his life for that moment when he crosses the stage to received his honours achievement, only to be shoved out in the pouring rain and then herded to an over-crowded building where in the end we were told we could not even see… Read more »

Adrienne
Adrienne
7 years ago

As a McGill grad, a McGill employee, and a member of the McGill community for most of my life, I was so sad that my niece did not get to enjoy what should have been one of the most important days of her young life. I was already watching from Leacock 132 (because I do not like that tent at all) when the chaos began. As I watched people rushing around in a panic, I remembered my mother’s McGill convocation so many years ago, held in Place des Arts. That was a much more appropriate venue for the event. I… Read more »

Steve Shi
Steve Shi
7 years ago

We have the right to go across the stage to get our diploma. We strongly suggest the university to redo the convocation!!!

Steve Shi
Steve Shi
7 years ago

All arts graduates, let us suggest the university to redo our ceremony!!!

Tom
Tom
7 years ago

If only we had a way to find out how the weather is going to be in the future. If only there were structures made of stone in downtown Montreal that would be strong enough to withhold a thunderstorm and big enough to accommodate hard working students together with their proud parents…………….wait, those things exists. They are called weather forecast and buildings!!!!! I don’t have a child graduating from McGill and I am still mad that this accumulation of (allegedly) smart people did not think of a plan B. It is very embarrassing how this was handled by McGill and… Read more »

Ben
Ben
7 years ago

This is really poor planning from McGill. The weather is not too blame because such storm happens during the summer months and putting everyone safety at risk under a tent, is not a compromise an institution of good reputation should take.
Very disappointed by McGill poor organization for this important day for all students, families and friends.

Maureen
Maureen
7 years ago

After reading everyone’s comments it is obvious that a plan B should be in place because this is not the first time weather has been an issue. We traveled 3000 km to see our son graduate, very disappointed. There absolutely was a structural problem as my husband was one of the parents holding the pole on the side in place so we could get out. Although disappointed it is one we will never forget.

Roland Uphoff
Roland Uphoff
7 years ago

I am one of the parents who’s convocation experience was completely ruined by the events on June 3. My wife and I flew from Vancouver Island to attend our daughters graduation. After five tough years at McGill she had now earned her degree, and McGill University was going to make it special. Well things didn’t work out that way In fact – it didn’t go well at all. So here’s a few suggestions; First of all – maybe the administration should use a purpose built building – like an arena perhaps – with things like air conditioning and walls that… Read more »

Maher Ghadanfar
Maher Ghadanfar
7 years ago

I was not able to attend my daughter’s convocation, so I was looking forward to watching it via livestream. The beginning of the convocation was beautiful (albeit a bit long), and I was proud that my daughter had attended such a fine institution that attracted such world-class staff and speakers. My pride turned to shock and then pure contempt. You cannot blame this on the weather, but a plain and simple lack of preparedness by McGill. I was not able to watch my daughter on what should have been one of the most joyous days of her young life, and… Read more »

Cam
Cam
7 years ago

I was very disappointed to hear that my little sister was unable to graduate. After studying hard for three years, it seems crazy that McGill had no back up plan in mind to ensure that every student could experience their rightly earned graduation! My graduation was a great day, and I am sorry that they couldn’t experience it completely.

Abeer hanano
Abeer hanano
7 years ago

Simply put, you’ve disrespected your students and their parents. You’ve robbed me, a mother, of my right to watch my daughter walk across the stage to receive her diploma, something I’ve been waiting for for four years.

Maher Ghadanfar
Maher Ghadanfar
7 years ago

I was not able to attend my daughter’s convocation, so I was looking forward to watching it via livestream. The beginning of the convocation was beautiful “albeit a bit long”, and I was proud that my daughter had attended such a fine institution that attracted such world-class staff and speakers. My pride turned to shock and then pure contempt. You cannot blame this on the weather, but a plain and simple lack of preparedness by McGill. I was not able to watch my daughter on what should have been one of the most joyous days of her young life, and… Read more »

CVironda
CVironda
7 years ago

Just landed back in Paris after the fiasco of a graduation event we have attended at McGill. We are gutted however it doesn’t seem to bother McGill if you read this newsletter! The students deserved better and I can’t believe you posted a photo of a handful of happy graduates who managed to get into the hall with their families leaving everyone else standing dripping in the hallways. An official apology would be more appropriate.

aj aj
aj aj
7 years ago

Big Ups to the clerical staff who stayed at work late to hand out the diplomas and bear the brunt of the – very valid! – frustrations from parents and students regarding the situation. They didn’t get to wear robes or enjoy ceremony after ceremony of pomp and circumstance, but they would sooner give up their own time and try their best to make the day as enjoyable as possible for the students.

Brayden Abraham
Brayden Abraham
7 years ago

Weather aside, this was a TERRIBLE convocation experience. The ceremony began with 800 graduating McGill students being herded into Redpath Hall like cattle. We were packed extremely close together in 30 degree heat wearing cap and gown for over an hour. It was so bad that two graduating students at the very back of the hallway fainted due to heat stroke. We were then marched out of the sweatshop… I mean Redpath Hall, and led into a tent containing roughly 4000 people (students, faculty, and families/friends of the graduates). Upon entering the tent I was even more disgusted. I don’t… Read more »

Connie
Connie
7 years ago

Im one of graduated arts students in that convacation. My parents fly over 20 hours across the world for me. This would be my first and last official convocation. However, my parents as non English speaker had no idea we moved to Leacock. They were the last couple left the tent because they were looking for me and worried about me in the chaos. all I did after cross the stage was looking for my parents. My feet were hurt with high heel for climbing the uphill path, and disappointed students and parents sitting everywhere, so I left without taking… Read more »

Bianca Lallitto
Bianca Lallitto
7 years ago

On June 3rd, McGill University showed just how little it respects its students by refusing to be held accountable for the disruption of the Faculty of Arts’ afternoon convocation ceremony. An apology e-mail which can only be described as politically correct was sent to the McGill community by its principal, Professor Suzanne Fortier, in which the blame was shifted to everything but McGill’s poor planning and lack of concern for the safety of students and guests. I’d like to comment on some quotes from the e-mail: “We would like to offer our heartfelt apologies for the disruption of today’s convocation… Read more »