Angry students start petition over changes to graduations
Outraged De Montfort University students have launched a petition to prevent their graduation ceremonies being held at the city's flagship Curve theatre.
University bosses want to move the ceremonies from De Montfort Hall which dates back to 1913, to Curve, which is closer to Leicester city centre.
The university says the theatre is more "intimate and special" with easier parking.
But angry students have hit back saying the site has no significance and ceremonies will lose their sense of grandeur and tradition.
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More than 500 students have so far signed the online petition on Facebook since it was set up last Friday to protest about the change.
Student Natalie Boileu posted: "I think it's ridiculous.
"Not only have they changed the venue without consulting us half-way through our final year, but also felt it would be okay to change it to a venue of no character or history.
"De Montfort Hall is a building which holds prestige.
"I don't want to have my graduation pictures outside a grey dull concrete building on a back street in Leicester."
Fellow student Sherri Bernstein said: "Graduating at De Montfort Hall is something to be proud of.
"I don't believe we'll get the same feeling from a theatre."
Student Caitlin Bloom said there should have been consultation.
However, some DMU students support the change of venue.
Jack Siddons, 20, who is studying politics and international relations, said: "Curve is a fantastic venue in the city centre, whereas De Montfort Hall is practically on Leicester University's campus.
"It's a dynamic space and can accommodate everyone.
"I expect it's a lot cheaper than De Montfort Hall. Presumably businesses in the town centre will benefit, too."
David Winter, vice president of the DMU's Student Union, said he was aware of the petition.
He said: "We hope to discuss this with the vice-chancellor as soon as possible but we need to establish if this is the loud minority or majority talking."
Ceremonies are set to take place at the Curve from January next year, after 25 years at the De Montfort Hall.
A letter was sent to students from Professor Andy Downton, pro vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, on Friday, saying: "The change reflects our forward-looking values of quality and distinctiveness.
"The benefit of using Curve is that the ceremonies will be more intimate and special."
He said it was within easy walking distance from DMU and there was parking next to the theatre.
A university spokesman added: "Curve will accommodate an increased number of students graduating next July, which De Montfort Hall could not. As well as providing better lighting and acoustic facilities, Curve is part of our exciting new plan for graduations, which will see graduations combined with celebration events on campus for the first time."
Councillor Ted Cassidy, assistant city mayor, said: "We're sure that a graduation ceremony in the fabulous Curve theatre will be something the DMU students will remember.
"However, there will always be a warm welcome for them should they ever decide to have future ceremonies at the hall."
Fiona Allan, chief executive of Curve, said they would make sure the theatre's graduation ceremony would create memories to treasure.
A spokesman for De Montfort Hall said: "It has been an honour to be home to the De Montfort University graduations for so long and we are disappointed they are moving the ceremonies elsewhere. If the university should ever choose to come back we would welcome them."