Students propose reusing gowns

Shelley Blundell

You’re a graduating senior. The bills are piling up. Now you have to scrape together the cash to buy a cap and gown that you’ll probably wear once.

Well, what if you could get your gown for free?

Valerie Giroux, a graduating senior in conflict management, came up with the idea for free gowns for graduating seniors during a group session in her strategic planning class. Giroux and classmate Ryan Holzinger were discussing project ideas when conversation turned to graduation.

“We wandered off topic and started talking about how we didn’t like that we had to pay for gowns on top of everything else for graduation,” Giroux said.

“So we started thinking — what if we could get the gowns for free on a return and reuse basis?”

Giroux, Holzinger and classmate Steve Work put together a proposal for the Board of Trustees, Undergraduate Student Senate, Provost Paul Gaston and President Carol Cartwright concerning free gowns.

In their proposal, the group stated: “In order to mentally and financially ease the graduation process for students, we have a vision: to create the option of having free gowns for graduating students at Kent State.”

The group suggests a return and reuse policy to make this a possibility. While the group realized making full regalia returnable might be unfeasible, they did suggest a gown-only return. If the gown is returned within a week of graduation in a serviceable condition, then the student will receive a refund for the gown.

William Ross, executive director of the Undergraduate Student Senate, received the group’s proposal and is meeting with Giroux this afternoon.

Ross also said Gaston and Cartwright had received the proposal, and Cartwright had asked a staff member involved with commencement to look at other institutions to see if they offered a similar program.

“I feel like I don’t have enough information about (the free-gown program) at this point,” Ross said.

Ross cited concerns for the overall cost of the program, such as cleaning and storage of the gowns, but said it would be a good idea if the smaller details could be worked out.

“Anything to help save the students money, I’m all for it,” Ross said.

And, according to Giroux, helping graduating seniors save money is what the program is all about.

As part of the proposal, the group asked students to sign a petition regarding whether they would be interested in supporting free gowns for graduating seniors.

While the group was bound by time constraints for the petition, they managed to collect 626 signatures in support of the program, which were submitted with their proposal.

“I know it’s too late to do anything about it this semester, but we hope our proposal will create an awareness and a desire to implement it,” Giroux said.

Contact general assignment reporter Shelley Blundell at [email protected].