The institution of a moment of reflection to replace prayer during University of Windsor Convocation ceremonies will create a more inclusive atmosphere, says Kaye Johnson, director of the Office of Human Rights, Equity and Accessibility.
“We operate to make things as inclusive as possible—widening the circle,” she says. “A moment of silent reflection will allow people to use this time as they need to, not as someone else decides.”
Shawna Scott, a psychology student who will receive her master’s degree during the October 13 Fall Convocation, welcomes the secular approach. President of the Windsor-Essex County Atheist Society, a ratified student club, she had petitioned the University this summer to adopt a moment of personal reflection.
“We are ecstatic that the university has made this change so that convocation is more inclusive of all students, both religious and nonreligious,” says Scott. “All students go through a lot of hard work to graduate. No student should be excluded from any part of convocation.”
She says she was taken aback by the prayer when she received her undergraduate degree, and feels validated by the University’s decision.
“It’s great to see the university be so responsive to our petition,” Scott says. “We feel a lot of reassurance that the university does take our concerns seriously.”
Many universities already embrace this format, Johnson says.
“In fact, many people are surprised to find that the Convocation ceremony included a prayer,” she says.
The ceremony will introduce the moment of reflection with this wording:
- “This day marks a new beginning, particularly for those about to celebrate their graduation. It is only fitting that we come together to recognize your achievements and commemorate your successes as you continue on your lifelong quest for knowledge and excellence. I ask that you take a moment to reflect on those who guided you along your path of learning, to appreciate our families, our teachers, our peers, the world in which we live, and all that inspires us.”
Fall Convocation is set for Saturday, October 13, in the St. Denis Centre fieldhouse.