Rosette furore at Auckland graduation

Posted By TEU on May 5, 2011 |

Staff and students were stunned earlier this week at the Law and Arts Graduation ceremony when university officials barred entry to the ceremony to one of the university’s top-achieving students because of a rosette he was wearing.

Vernon Tava, who graduated with first class honours, Masters in Law, was told to remove a small yellow rosette pinned to his regalia, which protested the vice-chancellor’s attempt to remove important academic conditions of work from the academic staff collective agreement.

Mr 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.

“When I pointed out that there were no grounds for them preventing me from entering the theatre,” said Mr Tava, “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.

Mr Tava did eventually cross the stage, complete with a rosette hidden under his cap. But, in the meantime the university’s actions had outraged the university’s student president Joe McCrory.

“AUSA will be working on behalf of students to seek an official apology from the University of Auckland for their disgraceful conduct,” Mr McCrory said.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email