Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) has proposed the idea of a virtual graduation ceremony and using robots as stand-ins for students in view of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO)
On Saturday, 30 May, UniSZA shared a video on its Facebook account showing that the university was prepared to hold convocations by using video call and having graduates receive their diplomas through a robot.
"This video shows the simulation that was carried out by UniSZA in preparation to hold an alternative convocation using robots and video call," the university wrote amidst the ban of all mass gatherings, including graduations, during the CMCO.
"In the simulation, Robot Naseem and Robot Seebaa will represent the graduate to receive the scroll while students can watch the ceremony and interact live through the videos and the two robots."
The university said that this would be a great alternative for international students who are unable to attend their convocations.
However, many students have flooded the comments to firmly oppose the idea of an online graduation ceremony
Students, especially those in the 2020 graduation class, urged UniSZA to reconsider the proposal and to postpone their ceremony instead. Some said they would rather wait for the MCO to be lifted than have their graduations online.
"UniSZA may be prepared, but we, the graduating students, are not! I am willing to wait years if it means that I can get up on the stage. I have studied for four years to wear those convocation robes and celebrate with my mother. Please UniSZA, hear us out," begged a student.
While another said, "UniSZA may be proud with this proposal. But we as the students want to feel what it's like to walk on the stage to receive the scrolls ourselves. It's the result of our hard work."
"Postpone it to next year. You wouldn't have to arrange the two robots to take the scrolls. We'll do it ourselves."
This student also commented about how much the ceremony means to their family, "It has been my parents' dream since I was young to watch me walk up the stage during convocation."
UniSZA has since reiterated that the video was merely to demonstrate the university had the resources if a socially-distanced convocation was necessary
The university reassured its students that it understood the significance of the graduation ceremony and clarified that the simulation was only a 'proof of concept' they were ready to implement, especially in the case of a foreign student not being able to attend.
"In other words, it is an innovative alternative that can be considered in the future. But for now, there is no decision or plans for UniSZA to hold convocations that are 100% online," it said.
The university also added that no graduation ceremonies were to be held this year.