The typically all-black affair of commencement will get a healthy dose of maroon and gold this year.
In a move to match the ongoing conversations among administrators about creating a unified campus identity, commencement gowns purchased this year will be maroon, with a prominent gold Central Michigan University seal on the left lapel.
The gowns are for undergraduates only and can be purchased at the CMU Bookstore.
Barry Waters, director of the CMU Bookstore, said the change in gown type cost him $7 more per gown, but he decided not to increase the cost of the new gowns for students. The price of the cap and gown combination will remain $55 at the Bookstore.
Some students have purchased the traditional black gown, despite rumblings that a new gown would be given out as commencement drew nearer.
“It puzzled me a bit, because we’ll always have students in internships or doing student teaching who won’t find out about the grad fair until later,” Waters said. “They think it’s their only chance to get their gown.”
Waters said a few students have purchased the traditional and now obsolete black gowns, prior to and at the graduation fair despite his warning of a new gown. Waters added that he was aware of at least two students who have purchased the black gowns.
“One came up to me at the grad fair and wanted to purchase one,” Waters said. “I told them that I wasn’t comfortable selling them a black gown because we’re changing the gowns, but they bought it anyway. Another emailed me asking if there was a way they could exchange the gown, and we will do that for any student at no charge.”
Waters said he and other bookstore employees will set up a table in McGuirk Arena during commencement ceremonies to make sure students will have the right gowns.
“Because of the campus identity project, we want to make sure everyone has the same gown,” he said. “Literally, five minutes before the ceremony, we’ll be walking around giving the new gowns to students who don’t have them.”
For some students, the modification of the gowns came as a surprise.
“I didn’t know there was a difference (when I picked up my gown),” said Kara McDonald, a Lake City senior. “I showed it to a friend and they were confused.”
McDonald said the color difference was a welcome change from the dreary black attire.
“I really like the seal on it,” she said. “I get the gold tassel because (of the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences.) It matches well.”
Other students, like Troy senior Lisa Lull, said black was better for a number of fashionable reasons.
“I kind of liked the black robes because you could wear colorful shoes,” she said. “Now, I have to wear boring nude shoes. I have a lot of friends complaining because they were going to borrow their friends’ robe and now they have to buy a new one. They can’t use their older brother’s or sister’s or friends.”
Taking a more moderate approach, Paw Paw junior Elyce Rosenbach said the theme of a single campus identity is a positive philosophical addition to commencement ceremonies.
“I don’t mind it since it’s the school’s colors,” she said. “It makes me feel more connected to the campus.”