Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Ahh, graduation. A time to celebrate the achievement of surviving college and obtaining a degree. A time of regret for all that will be left behind, tempered by excitement at the future spreading out before the graduate. A time of of honorable tradition and ceremony. 

And, of course, a time to gouge the crap out of all those poor suckers just one last time. Case in point, one of those hoary old traditions: the graduation cap and gown. 

Now, I finished my degree in december, but the college only does one commencement a year. So, in a couple of days, I'll be called upon the shake the college president's hand and accept a flat leather folder containing a piece of paper informing the world that I've sunk three years of my life into getting half of a useful journalism degree. Although, "useful" and "journalism degree" go together about as well as "honest" and "politician."

So, naturally enough, I have to honor tradition (because they won't let you in if you don't) and head to the student store for the regalia of a graduate. For the low, low price of $37.93, I am now the less than proud owner of two of the least functional and most unflattering garments ever created. Also, a tassel. 

Amazingly, still more useful than Congress. (Source.)
First off, let me disabuse you all of a misnomer: the fashion abomination above is usually referred to as a "gown." For reference:

That's a gown. What we are forced to wear to graduation is, in fact, a robe. And not an awesome Sith Lord/Jedi/Ringwraith robe. No, this is the Sith robe of shaming, the robe that has had the mandatory Cowl o' Genre Appropriate Shadowing removed. This is the robe Jedi force Sith prisoners to wear, in the hopes that they will fear the sheer humiliation of being connected with that robe, and refuse to use their dark powers so no one will realize a Sith Lord is wearing that ridiculous sack.

And the worst part of spending money on this thing is, you have purchased a supremely useless garment for the cost of a pair of designer jeans, or cheap shoes, or even a decent dinner out — but you will only wear it once or twice, and categorically refuse to allow it near your body ever again after that. Because it's fugly, and you only bought it or had it bought for you because you had to in order to walk on that stage and get handed a piece of paper. 

Seriously, I will wear ugly clothes if there's a reason for them. Almost no-one looks good in a parka, for instance. But this damn thing is purposeless. It has no pockets, is so flimsy that it can't protect you from cold, but sturdy enough to have you gasping for air if it's warm outside. The material is usually too rough for sleeping. And besides, unless it was your absolute last resort and the alternative was to walk about buck naked, would you really even consider wearing a freaking robe outside in broad daylight?

Some of you would say yes, and for you, I can only imagine you're seeing the grad outfit's closest cousin: 

It's a bathrobe. But! 

Note the pockets. Note the warm, thick layers of fuzzy comfort. Note the built in garrote should anyone dare mock your magnificent leisure attire. It's a multi purpose garment, dang it. The grad outfit is just a shapeless sack. You put it on, you wear it, you take it off and burn it to ashes in protest of its existence. That's it, that's all it can do. But hey, that's ok. Because it's not the only dumb thing you'll be wearing at the party.

Did I mention there's a hat?


Yep! In addition to the honor and privilege of wearing the shower curtain you mistook for your bathrobe to a momentous ceremony that is, in part, to honor you, you also get the enviable joy of fastening a mousepad to your skull with the attached not-really-elastic cap. As in a "one size fits most depending on how you define 'fits'" cap. 

Oh, and the mousepad has the ponytail of an emo rag doll tied on to show everyone that you've graduated for the five seconds before you throw the thing straight up and hope it escapes the Earth's gravitational pull and gets sucked into orbit.

You know what? Tests, stress, debt, and fears about life after college aside...this may be the most compelling reason students drink so much. Because they know that after all the hell they put themselves through...they still have to wear these ridiculous outfits. In public. Surrounded by cameras, which are being wielded by the same people who show off those photos of their kids eating mud naked at the age of three. 

Why? Why would those who've been telling us for between two and ten years that they want to see us succeed force us to wear these awful things?

See, here's my theory. I think it's a secret test by the faculty to see how badly you want that degree. 

Sure, you've written essays over subjects that make your brain hemorrhage with boredom to get that degree. 

Sure, you've survived more flavors of math than you'll ever need to get that degree

And yes, you've sacrificed sleep, bypassed opportunities for fun, strained all your non-college relationships, and gained dozens of levels in badass and/or ass-kissing to get that degree


Are you willing, after all that, to don a robe that you wouldn't give your worst enemy to die in, use a stretched out sock to hold an oversized bar coaster to your head, top the whole thing with miniature mop head, and stand up in front of everyone you know to get that degree?

Are you!?

Look on the bright side, though. For most of us, this is something we can put behind us with a half a dozen beers and a strong resolve to never speak of it again. But there are those of us students who will have nightmares of this day for the rest of their lives. Remember:

Fashion majors have to graduate too. 


  1. "No, this is the Sith robe of shaming" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Holy fuck, fell off my bed laughing at that.

  2. At UCO I knew a girl that wore elf ears to graduate, just in protest.
    I only got as far as an Associates, but I refused to walk. Just mail me the paper and let's call it good!