KPU’s first convocation back in-person has hiccups

Some family members with tickets were unable to watch the ceremony in-person, students told there would be no formal handshaking due to COVID precautions

KPU is investigating an "oversubscription" of convocation tickets, after some family members of graduates were prevented from attending the ceremony in-person. (File photo)

KPU is investigating an “oversubscription” of convocation tickets, after some family members of graduates were prevented from attending the ceremony in-person. (File photo)

Update: in an emailed statement to The Runner on July 22, KPU Secretary Keri van Gerven said the university’s investigation found there was a miscommunication with its ticketing company regarding seat numbers. 

“We have adjusted our process to ensure this will not be repeated in future years. We apologize again to all those who were affected,” van Gerven wrote.


On the second day of Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s June convocation, some students could not have their family members watch them walk across the stage even if they had a ticket. 

“KPU is investigating why its convocation event on Wednesday afternoon was oversubscribed after the first three events this summer proceeded without incident,” wrote Randall Heidt, vice president, external affairs in an email statement to The Runner

“The university is very sorry this happened and is working to minimize the chance of a repeat, although at this early stage (Wednesday evening) it cannot guarantee that another ceremony this week won’t be affected.” 

KPU plans their convocation ceremonies months in advance, so tickets are distributed to students that request them ahead of time. This makes adjusting to unexpected oversubscriptions difficult on the day of the ceremony, Heidt said. 

KPU staff tried to accommodate guests on campus in a place near the convocation hall where they could watch the live stream, according to Heidt’s email.  

“We know this doesn’t match the experience of being in the same room as the graduate crossing the stage and we truly regret that, but logistical and room capacity limits prevent us from bringing everyone in and hosting convocation,” Heidt wrote. 

Graduates also learned on campus that the ceremony would not include a formal handshake with university President and Vice Chancellor Alan Davis. 

“Given lingering public health concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with the majority findings of an informal canvassing of how other post-secondary institutions intended to handle convocation, KPU took the decision to stop short of formal handshakes during this convocation period,” he wrote. 

The recent COVID-19 weekly report published by the BC Centre for Disease Control on June 16 reported a total of 726 new cases between June 5 and June 11, a slight decrease from the 894 cases reported the week before. 

Despite reports of high COVID cases, the provincial government has maintained reduced pandemic restrictions, including dropping the mask requirements and capacity limits. 

Citing the provincial COVID guidelines, KPU lifted their mask mandate at the end of the spring semester on April 27, and the decision to wear a mask has been an individual choice on campus since.