Graduation With No Cap and Gown

What would you wear for your graduation ceremony? If you have the choice, would you rather wear the heavy black cap and gown or would you rather wear something else like, say… jeans?

I thought about these questions as I watched the SUNY Albany Spring 2011 graduation a few weeks ago. The graduates look so dignified in their academic dress. It’s just a black long robe (and a rather funny looking cap), but everyone will agree that there’s something about the costume that distinguishes the group who wears it from the rest of the people. Between the academics and the non-academics.

In the beginning it was exciting to watch the graduates in their gown. But after a while, it gets boring to watch the dull color. And since they were all wearing the same gown, it was extremely difficult to locate where my graduating friend was seated!

Back in 2006, as our graduation day came closer we were also wondering about the above question. Scholas, the ISS Student Association, had to make a poll to see what the majority of students wish to wear: the academic regalia or the traditional costume (or whatever outfit they want to wear).

I think all of the previous batches in ISS always celebrate the graduation ceremony in their traditional costume instead of the Western cap and gown. In my year, however, some of the students insisted on asking everyone to rethink this practice and go back to the usual cap and gown. Again, it’s just a gown. But there’s something about it that’s so appealing to some people. It must be the identity that is associated with the gown.

I’m glad that the result of the poll showed that the majority of the students chose to keep the ISS tradition, which is to do the graduation in the student’s traditional costume.  I really enjoy watching my friends came forward and receive the degree in their Japanese Kimono, Ghanaian Kente cloth and Smock, Nigerian Bubu, Ethiopian coffee dress, Ugandan Gomesi, Bangladeshi Shalwar Kameez, Indian Sari, Vietnamese Ao Dai, and many more. What a vibrant and colorful day!

Most of my Indonesian friends were in Kebaya or Batik. I didn’t feel like dressing up so I showed up with… jeans! 😀 I’m sure if Mark Zuckerberg decided to finish his studies and graduate from a college one day, he’ll be happy to do it the ISS way. He’ll show up with his jeans and hoodie as usual.

P.S.: Want to see the fun? Here’s the video of ISS graduation last year:


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