USC approches administration to change commencement dress

White dresses and blue suits may be replaced with mortar boards and gowns.

Students+process+across+the+front+lawn+at+the+Class+of+2014+Commencement.

SPA Smugmug

Students process across the front lawn at the Class of 2014 Commencement.

Every school has traditions that follow them for years on end, like school dress-up days or even homecoming parades. However, SPA has a school tradition that’s a little different from other schools. SPA doesn’t have caps and gowns at graduation—we wear white suits and dresses. While these aren’t the traditional graduation clothes, is has been a part of SPA’s history for a very long time. 

“In the past, it has been a tradition at SPA for a really long time,” USC vice-president Rashmi Raveendran said. “No one has really ever brought it up; a lot of alumni and parents really like the apparel, so it hasn’t been changed.”

Some arguments against caps and gowns are that it’s a tradition, but because our culture is changing, and traditions change with it.”

— Niko Liepins

Current students believe that the dresses and suits are not a good fit, and the dress code is being reconsidered. “Now, we’ve deemed that [the dresses and suits] are outdated, and there are some obvious reasons why that isn’t right for our school,” said USC vice-president Niko Liepins. “Some arguments against caps and gowns are that it’s a tradition, but because our culture is changing, and traditions change with it.”

The main reason why USC has been bringing up these issues is due to cultural and social conflicts. “The biggest issue is that the current tradition—the way that the students ‘walk down the aisle’ to graduation—is based on the tradition of the marriage of the boys’ school and the girls’ school,” Liepins said. “It was created to be where a male-identifying and female-identifying person were paired together, and they walk down the aisle, with flowers, like a wedding.”

On the other side of the spectrum, a significant amount of people enjoy the traditional dresses and suits. “I think the dresses look nice,” said junior Mimi Longe. “Wearing dresses is more personalized than other schools, so they stand out. They also aren’t as sweaty and look more classy.”

USC’s conversation with the administration to bring in graduation caps and gowns is beginning, but it’s difficult to change a tradition that’s been implemented since the 1970s. “Soon, we will be talking with the Dean [Thornberry] about the implications of that, what we can look forward to, and some things that we should look out for,” Raveendran said.