Staff and students were shocked yesterday at the Law and Arts Graduation ceremony when university officials barred entry to the ceremony to one of the University’s top-achieving students.
Vernon Tava, who graduated with first class honours, Masters in Law, was told to remove the small yellow rosette pinned to his regalia which called for staff and students to unite to defend the university.
The rosette was part of a staff and student campaign to prevent the vice-chancellor removing important academic conditions of work from their collective employment agreement.
Tava was told that unless he removed his rosette his degree would be withheld and he would be prevented from crossing the stage. When he refused to surrender the rosette he was threatened with disciplinary action.
Tava says, “When I pointed out that there were no grounds for them preventing me from entering the theatre, a male member of staff put a restraining hand on my chest and another official asked rhetorically, ‘would you like us to search your pockets Sir?'”
This altercation occurred in the context of a long-running dispute between the vice-chancellor and staff about key academic conditions of employment, which affect how academics do their teaching and research and engage with the wider community.
Many other students and administrative staff wanted to wear the rosettes to show solidarity with academic staff, but were ordered not to.
In contrast an estimated 95 percent of academic staff wore the rosettes during the ceremony.
For more information
Vernon Tava 02102324292
LLM (First Class Honours)
Research Fellow, New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law
Tutor and Sessional Lecturer at Dept of Planning
Tutor at Law School
Stephen Day, TEU communications officer, 0212900734
Jane Adams, TEU organiser, 0274387254