No Individuality Allowed

Ashleigh Gallagher in front of the Texas Tech seal with her plain gap and gown. Photo provided by Gallagher.

Ashleigh Gallagher in front of the Texas Tech seal with her plain gap and gown. Photo provided by Gallagher.

Ashleigh Gallagher will graduate from Texas Tech on May 21 with a degree in early childhood education. Unlike a Michigan State student who made headlines for decorating his cap with parking tickets, she will not be allowed to add her own decor to her cap.

When she received an email with graduation information and rules, she was disappointed. Official regalia requires bachelor’s graduates to wear a stole, a cap and a gown.

“I feel that after four years of hard work, and a lot of money paid to the school, I should be able to decorate my cap to show some individuality and personality,” Gallagher said.

Each college sends an email similar to the one sent by the College of Education, stating “the policy of the University Convocations Committee prohibits Commencement participants from decorating their caps and gowns or wearing any accessories that are not an official element of the academic regalia.”

Gallagher said she would like her cap to show her accomplishments not displayed by chords or stoles. Although she understands that the university wants uniformity, she thinks college is a place to express individuality, especially on graduation day.

Gracen Daniel, a student member of the Convocations Committee, said she does not have any say in the cap decorating decisions but understands why it is not allowed. As a graduating senior, she does not mind it.

“The committee really holds a high regard for historical significance, and although there have been a few changes over the years, I think they really want to keep the traditional elegance of a sea of black mortar boards for the audience to gaze upon,” Daniel said.

Kacie Penman posing with her decorated cap at Oklahoma State University. Photo provided by Penman.

Kacie Penman posing with her decorated cap at Oklahoma State University. Photo provided by Penman.

Kacie Penman graduated from Oklahoma State University on May 7.

After she saw other students’ decorated caps, she decorated hers with the words “here’s to new adventures.” One of her adventures will be attending law school in the fall.

“I thought it was cute and unique,” Penman said. “So that way your parents could spot you in the crowd.”

And if they were not allowed to decorate their caps?

I’d be disappointed because then we’d all be blobs down there,” she said.

However, the rules are firm at Tech. Any student who arrives to graduation with a decorated cap would be required to purchase a new one for $9.98.

About Maddy McCarty

Maddy is the Graduate Managing Director for The Hub@TTU. She loves reading, writing and petting her cats. She has a degree in journalism and wants to continue reporting on important issues.

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