Why I won’t be wearing a gown to Commencement, and other Obie-ness


I ❤ you Obieland, but my sentiments exactly.

So my commencement is the 30th!  I’m psyched to show off my school to my family and my family to my school.

Commencement comes at the end of a long senior week full of partying and festivals.  It’s held in Tappan square, the main park-thing in the center of town.  The night before exercises is Illumination- where they hang up tons of lanterns and everyone parties.

All of the lights, all of the lights

We used to have to pass through Memorial arch, which commemorated those Oberlin missionary students who died in the boxer rebellion, but now it’s optional:

It used to be somewhat of a tradition that graduating students walk under the arch during graduation.

As controversy and protest are also a tradition at Oberlin, some students took issue with the presence of missionaries in China in the first place. These students would walk around the arch instead of through it.

Every year as commencement approached, there was often a display in A-level to inform students about the details of the dispute.

It’s also possible to go over the arch, by chimneying up the columns. This has been an option taken by graduating students from time to time as a meta-commentary on the issue.  (from Oberwiki)

Down with colonialism!

We’re also not required to do cap and gown.  Apparently, we were the last on the boat to adopt this custom when it came over from England, and we did away with it relatively quickly.

Pomp, in the form of the Academic Procession, became an integral part of the ceremony in the early 1900’s. By 1909 there was a standard listing for the “Academic Procession” and in 1913 the “Honorary Marshal” was added. Caps and gowns were worn beginning in 1903 by the students and in 1907 by the faculty. It was not until 1970 that the custom was abandoned by the graduating class. That class voted to abandon the cap and gown protesting that they were elitist symbols and that the rental money could be better used elsewhere. Most of the class contributed money to community organizations. The action came as a shock to “traditionalists.” It is worth looking in some detail at the history of academic dress at Oberlin in relation to this nostalgic outcry.  (From the Oberlin Archives)

Oh Oberlin, this is why I ❤ you!

Here’s a link of graduation images (with extra commentary) from the alumni magazine.  I heard that some kid wore a bear suit to graduation one year, which doesn’t surprise me, considering we have both bathrobe boy, fez kid, and Kalan, a recent grad and Obie legend who wore a cow suit on occasion, and who showed up to commencement in “ski googles, paint-stained overalls over his bare chest, and an American flag as a cape”.

We are Oberlin. Casual Mondays.

I was thinking of wearing my kimono (that I bought in Japan) to graduation, but it’s probably going to be warm outside, and the kimono’s silk.  I think I’ll wear mom’s Mexican dress instead.  Either way, I’ll be representin‘!  Maybe I’ll be like the grad below, and wear an awesome wreath!

Maybe I'll be like this grad, and wear a wreath instead...

This is my last week of classes!!!  WOO WOOO!!! I’m only six class periods, three papers, and a presentation away from being finished.  When I get my degree Imma be like this:

Click the pic: This is me in three weeks

And it doesn’t even matter that after graduation Imma be like this:

So what about you, cyberfriends?  What was/is your commencement like?  What were/are your school’s traditions?


2 responses »

  1. I have had so many lol, all with the requisite pompness (is there such a word!!!) lol
    I love graduation, it is the gold at the end of the digging, all those long nights of studying but here in the states, you spend more years digging out of student loans lol

    Enjoy, thanks for the “history” lesson. I like learning about new places, culture and the like. CONGRATULATIONS!!! 🙂

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