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York students campaign to graduate at York Minster

© The University of York

Students at the University of York recently started a petition on change.org to graduate at the York Minster, one of the focal points of the city itself, and a destination deemed highly superior to Central Hall.

© The University of York

Jonathan Burns, the York student behind the petition, has stated on the petition:

“The York Minster is a big part of York itself. Even if you disregard its gothic beauty or its centuries old history it is still one of main focal points in the cities activities and gatherings. Something you can’t say about Central Hall. It seems both the University and the Minster are wary about whether or not students want this to happen enough, so lets make them know that we do.”

It cannot be denied that this petition has rallied a huge amount of support from York students and graduates; it already has close to three thousand signatures, despite only being released yesterday.

As well as giving supporters the opportunity to sign their name, the petition also asks, ‘why is this important to you?’, which has led to students and graduates leaving comments in their droves.  The most popular comment, written by James Goddard, reads:

“The minster is absolutely beautiful and graduating from there would be a really great way to finish my time at uni. Conversely I’m now in third year and yet I think I’ve been into Central Hall once for a fire induction, and as far as I can remember it didn’t make a great impression. For me and almost every other student the minster has been a far greater and happier part of our time at York than Central Hall. With a beautiful city like York to make the most of, the uni is really underplaying one of its greatest assets if students continue to graduate from a building that looks like a spaceship, is decorated like a school gym and of which almost nobody has fond memories.”

There was talk for graduation at the Minster back in 2010, but the University has argued that the diverse range of faiths among the student body is the main reason for graduating at Central Hall, as opposed to the Minster. Much attention has been brought to the issue by the fact that York St. John University students hold their graduation ceremonies in the Minster, something that many University of York students view as unfair. This afternoon, another petition has circulated on social media, where some students are lobbying to keep graduation in the Central Hall.

Bradley Muggeridge who started the “Keep Graduation in Central Hall” petition stated on change.org,

“Universities should not have the decision to give precedence to one religious building with a specific history and system of beliefs; keep our graduation Secular. Whilst the Minster is indeed a beautiful building, holding graduations inside of it is completely inappropriate for anybody who does not identify as a Church of England Christian. Furthermore, we should also choose to graduate closer to where we have spent years of our lives studying and have pride in our Central Hall rather than a building that is not associated with the university. Let’s show the University that we care more about our own campus, the secular value of university education and equal comfort for other Religious and Non-Religious students at their graduations than we do about the aesthetic pleasure of the building in which it takes place.”

However, with less than 20 supporters as of this afternoon, University of York students seems to prefer to graduate at the York Minster than the Central Hall.