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UWI Guild president Warren Anderson

It’s supposed to be their crowning moment after years of navigating through textbooks and gruelling exams.

And while the next graduating cohort of the University of the West Indies St Augustine should be feeling relief and a sense of accomplishment, the representing student body says they’re experiencing a different set of emotions.

“I would say they’re feeling anger, they are upset, there’s some anxiety in there and uncertainty on what is to come,” said UWI Student Guild President Warren Anderson.

The students are right now circulating a petition to protest the COVID-19 inspired rules for photography and the wearing of the graduation gown and cap.

Right now, a sole photographer is the only person with the authority to take headshots to be used for the virtual ceremony in January. And the graduation regalia can only be rented for up to 15 minutes.

“The regalia is only accessible through this service provider, it means therefore that you are subject to the service provider’s prices which ranges within the hundreds of dollars,” Anderson said.

The petition on GoPetition.com which already has over 200 signatures, states that the photographer will charge 100 dollars for the headshot which you cannot review and the digital copy would be sent in April 2021. The petition goes on to say that the digital copy will cost them $570.

The Guild President said this also means if a graduand wanted to hire a private photographer to take pictures of them with their family, the graduand will not be able to wear the cap and gown.

Anderson said regional students are also being left out as they cannot come into the country to take the picture.

He said an email was sent to the school’s administration asking for clarity on how the ceremony will be held but so far they received no response.

The petition is asking for more time to take private photos and a price decrease for the digital copy.

UWI St Augustine Principal, Professor Brian Copeland said a statement will be issued soon on the matter.