Convocation marks a major milestone for university students, but some Dalhousie law school graduates may not be able to attend theirs after the university changed the date.

After three years of hard work, Kristen Vandenberg says she has been looking forward to graduating from law school. Convocation was originally scheduled for May 22, but now it has been pushed to May 29, cutting it close for students taking the bar exam in Ontario.

“Our Ontario bar exam is going to be on June 2,” says Vandenberg. “I’m going to be spending basically the entire month of May prepping for it.”

The date change also affects law students heading to British Columbia, many of whom are required to take a course that begins two days after convocation.

In Nova Scotia, many students will be starting new jobs on June 1, which leaves them with just one day after convocation.

“We just did three years of school together, so I think most people would really like to graduate together,” says Vandenberg.

The decision to condense all graduation ceremonies into one week was made by the Dalhousie administration.

Mairead Barry, the university’s assistant vice-president of enrollment management, says the new date is more convenient for some students.

“It…helps with students that potentially need to take a supplemental exam or for whatever reason have a late mark coming in, so it means that we can have more students participate in convocation,” says Barry.

Administration at Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law says they support the students, but their hands are tied.

The decision has prompted law school students to start a petition.

“The university needs to accommodate our obligations to other organizations, including our professional organizations, and we feel this hasn’t been met,” says Anthony Rosborough, president of the Dalhousie Law Students’ Society.

About half of the students in this year’s graduating class have signed the petition. The Dalhousie Law Students’ Society says a referendum would be the next step, but admits the issue isn’t black and white.

“There are other students as well, many others that have already made travel arrangements based on the posted dates of convocation, and so changing the date at this point could be an inconvenience for them and their families as well,” says Barry.

Officials say the students will have a chance to give the university feedback and a final decision will be made in the next few weeks.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Priya Sam