A student of English literature at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Joshua Whitehead was denied entry to his graduation ceremony for wearing a Nigerian outfit, instead of a gown.
The student, Joshua Whitehead, said he wanted to wear the cultural garments as a way to ‘celebrate his Nigerian heritage’ during the graduation ceremony which was held at the University Hall in Shakespeare Street on December 13, 2019.
But he was told by the school authorities he would not be allowed into the hall due to what he was wearing when he arrived.
Nottingham Trent University said students are welcome to wear traditional national dress to their graduations, as long as they wear a gown on top during the ceremony.
Before the day of his graduation, Joshua had written to the president of NTU’s students’ union saying he would not be paying to hire a gown because of the “extortionate” price.
The price of hiring a gown for a graduation ceremony at NTU is around £50 and Joshua said paying for a gown is a reflection of a “capitalistic society.”
The 25-year-old student said he thinks the institution play on for “marketing purposes.”
According to him, the cost of a university education means the price of gown hiring should be covered by the institution, especially for those of “working-class backgrounds Joshua said:
“In my culture these are clothes to wear on big occasions. I just wanted to celebrate my Nigerian heritage during my graduation.
“I’m from a working class background and it’s not cheap to hire a gown. We pay to come to university so they should buy the gowns for us.
“That’s one idea I’ve had. I’m not making demands or anything but we need to have that conversation.”
After being refused entry, he posted a video on social media expressing his thoughts on not being able to wear what we wanted and having to pay to hire a gown.
Joshua still managed to take pictures with his family outside University Hall and received his certificate for his degree.
Asked of he’s angry about being refused entry to his graduation ceremony, he said:
“I’m not angry, but a little upset. This shows how cultures are not being integrated and why some students struggle to be represented more than others.”
Despite what happened, Joshua said he is not angry and will carry on studying his masters at NTU in teaching English as a foreign language which he started in September.