Graduates were forbidden to wear sashes in support of the UCU.

Stirling graduates banned from wearing sashes supporting lecturer strikes

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University of Stirling graduates have been prohibited from wearing sashes in support of lecturer strikes due to it not being “academic dress”.

Graduates were asked to remove sashes before crossing the stage to collect their awards at winter graduation on November 24 and 25.

The ceremonies coincided with the University and College Union (UCU) strikes over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Natalia Uribe, a 27-year-old Masters of Public Policy graduate, said: “During the afternoon graduation there were several people wearing the UCU sashes.

“Staff would come by and tell people to remove it if they wanted to walk due to it not being ‘academic wear’.

“I said ‘There’s nothing more academic than a university union supporting staff’. 

“They then asked to take it from me to put away, but I refused and slipped it in my robe. Got checked again before walking to make sure it wasn’t visible.

“Even though they didn’t allow me to wear my sash, I held Gerry’s [McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling] hand and told him to support the UCU. 

“It’s a disgrace to ask us to clap and praise the staff while threatening us to wear anything in support of the UCU.”

Striking staff were visited by Stirling MP Alyn Smith. Image credit: UCU Stirling

More than 70 000 staff across 150 universities are participating in the industrial action, deemed the “biggest in the history of higher education” by the UCU.

Members voted in two ballots, with the pay and working conditions receiving an 81.1 per cent vote in favour of strike action, and the pension ballot receiving a yes vote of 84.9 per cent.

The first two days of strike action have had huge support from lecturers and students. Staff will also be striking on November 30.

In a Tweet, the Stirling UCU branch called the ban a “poor show from those managing the graduations”.

A spokesperson for the University of Stirling said: “Graduation is a formal, ceremonial occasion and all graduates are asked to comply with an academic dress code, which is communicated in advance of graduation day.

“A very small number of graduates were asked to remove sashes before crossing the stage to collect their award. In each case, graduates voluntarily removed the sash, once the academic dress code was explained.”

Featured image credit: UCU Stirling

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