Written by: Nikki Simon
August 11th 2023
Alright folks, we are halfway between the summer and fall convocation seasons! I graduated in June (thank you, thank you), and I don't know about you, but I had a lot of questions and anxiety for weeks leading up to the day! That being the case, I thought I would make a little post in the hopes of alleviating any fears that you might have, so let's get started!
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1. SFU hosts two convocation events throughout the year. In the fall, convocation ceremonies take place in early October over two days, with two ceremonies per day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In the summer, they take place in early June and are four days long, with two ceremonies per day. The day and time that your ceremony takes place depends on your department.
2. You are required to apply for graduation through goSFU the term before the term that you intend to convocate.
3. You will not receive any information about your convocation until three weeks before the event; this is because you were completing things necessary for your degree during the term that you applied to graduate, so don’t panic! At this time, you will receive an e-mail from the senate approving/awarding you your degrees, as well as other communications to help guide the next steps of your journey.
4. Once you have been approved to graduate, you will be able to go into goSFU and finalize all of the major details. This includes confirming your attendance, confirming that all the information regarding your degree(s) is correct, confirming the pronunciation of your name, your regalia rental (which costs $55), and your Artona photoshoot booking ($75, $60 of which is a deposit that can later be applied to print orders, not mandatory).
The Day of the Event
1. There will be a well-ordered and easy-to-follow step-by-step process on the day of the event, don’t panic!
2. Public Transportation is encouraged for the good of our planet; however, if you are driving, the North Lot, to the right of the entrance to Blusson Hall, is reserved for graduands and their guests.
3. After you’ve arrived, your journey will begin around the corner from Renaissance Coffee to the right in the Academic Quadrangle with picking up your degree (don’t forget your ID!). At this time, along with your degree, they will also give you a ticket that indicates what group you are to be with for the procession and your position in line. I will call this the placement ticket, don’t lose this! After securing the veryimportantdocument™, you will line up to pick up your gown, just down the hall to the left of Renaissance. At the gown pickup area, there will also be a coat check; this will be where you realize that you made a grave error and will curse yourself for choosing a dress without pockets. After you’ve placed the tent of a gown on your body, obscuring any need to wear nice clothes, you will proceed into the stairwell directly across the hall from the gown pickup and up the stairs to the outdoors. Through the door to the left will be where you secure your mortarboard and hood (the fancy sash that goes about your shoulders); a very nice individual will assist you in attaching these to yourself.
4. After you have acquired all of the necessary bits, you have options! You may:
a. Refer to your placement ticket to find where you're supposed to be standing and your position in line to await the procession. No matter your department, the lineup will be which will be right around where you got your mortarboard and hood.
b. If you have guests that would easily become confused or lost in the SFU maze, guide them down to the seating area in the Convocation Mall (right in front of the library). Guests may begin filling the mall at 8:45 a.m. for the morning ceremony and 1:30 p.m. for the afternoon ceremony.
i. Now feels like a good time to mention that graduands are allowed up to 4 guests, there are no guest tickets, and you don’t need to register your guests.
i. Any family and friends unable to attend in person may watch the live stream of the event on the SFU YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/@SimonFraserUniversity
c. Go to your Artona photoshoot if you have one booked. They will take photos in and out of gown and with your guests if you wish.
5. After you’ve done all you need to do and lined up in your line, it’s all just a waiting game. When the procession begins, if it’s not a rainy day, you will travel over the reflecting pond and down the steps into the Convocation Mall where there will be ushers to guide you toward your seats. Depending on what department you are in, you could be in for quite the wait. My department was scheduled for the end of our particular convocation ceremony, and energy was really down by then! When your time is approaching, an usher will stand at the end of your row, indicating that it is time to rise. Your row will stand and follow the usher to line up beside the stage. While in this lineup, Artona will take your photo for free. Once you get to the head of the line, you will hand your placement ticket to the individual waiting; they will call your name, you will walk across the stage, shake some hands, collect an Alumni pin from the Alumni representative, and *BAM* you’re done. That was it. Once you leave the stage, an usher will direct you back to your seat – now…you can leave, but it really is polite to stick around till the end because everyone deserves to have their achievements recognized.
6. After the ceremony is done, all that's left for you to do is take some photos, return your regalia and celebrate with your fellow graduands!
a) Bring something with you to secure your mortarboard to your head!
b) Wear something with pockets or some kind of low-profile small pack about your chest/waist to keep your phone and other ephemera in.
c) If you didn’t book a photoshoot, make sure you get friends or family to take some photos, and make sure you like them before you leave! Don’t worry; there will be plenty of opportunities for photos! While you’re lined up, there will be people offering to take individual photos with props, and after your convocation, each department will have a gathering where you can get photos with proffs or in a more casual setting. I recommend getting to know all the pretty, unfrequented, out-of-the-way nooks that SFU contains, these are ideal for photoshoots!
d) Make sure your guests (and yourself!) are properly dressed and prepared for any weather. This might include a sweater, water, blankets, shades, umbrella and so on. As SFU students, you know that the weather can be completely different on top of the mountain. While the Convocation Mall is covered, it is still outside, and sitting around freezing for three hours isn’t fun for anyone!
After the Event
1. Whether you booked a photoshoot with Artona or not, you will receive a link within two weeks of your convocation to order photos from them. If you did book a photoshoot, $60 of your $75 payment can then be applied to your order. If you didn’t, you’re out of luck, and the cheapest photo package that you can order is $114.99+tax (2 digital portraits without retouching that you have to print yourself).
2. If you were unable to attend your convocation ceremony, no worries! Your degree will be available for pickup in the Maggie Benson Center a week after your ceremony and will be mailed to you if not picked up after a month.
3. Congratulations! It was a long road, but you did the thing, and I'm proud of you!
If you find yourself with questions that I didn't answer or just need some reassurance, feel free to shoot a message on through!
Convocation FAQ: https://www.sfu.ca/convocation/faq.html