For seniors, commencement comes at a cost

UD Graduates
Seniors are required to wear official regalia to participate in commencement.

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Before graduation, many seniors add a final $100 or more to the cost of their university experience to purchase the regalia required to participate in convocation and commencement celebrations.

On April 17-19, students could pick up their caps and gowns at the “Life after UD: Grad Fair” at Barnes and Noble on Main Street, the only approved vendor for commencement items. An email from the bookstore said that this exclusivity allows the university to “determine which graduates intend to participate in Commencement exercises,” and “ensures that the regalia worn at graduation will be uniform.”

Students graduating with a Bachelor’s degree paid $94.50 for a preordered regalia package that includes a cap, gown, hood and tassel. Students who chose to purchase a stole commemorating study abroad trips paid an additional $40. These prices are consistent with last year’s pricing.

Some students were annoyed by these prices, but were not deterred from participating in commencement.

“I’m pretty sure my high school gown was really cheap,” Meredith Verner, a senior mechanical engineering major, says. “It is annoying, but it is also something you only do once. I never considered not going to graduation.”

High costs for regalia are not universal. At the University of Virginia, graduating seniors receive their cap and gown for free. At the University of Pittsburgh, students are permitted to borrow regalia from previous graduates, or can purchase a complete set with a cap, gown, tassel and hood for $55.

The university’s distinct blue-colored garb makes recycling caps and gowns more complicated.

“The gowns are so overpriced so I tried to borrow one from people who graduated last year,” Caroline Patterson, a senior hospitality major, says. “I didn’t end up doing that because I was told the color might have changed and didn’t want to not match.”

Sustainability was also a concern for Caroline Bobrick, a senior biology major. She says she never considered that she would have to pay for regalia until she received an email from the bookstore and was shocked when she saw the “absurd” price tag.

“Approximately 6,000 people go through graduation each year, and theoretically if everyone were to buy robes, that is almost a half a million dollars every year going toward robes,” Bobrick says. “It is a weird waste of money when you think about it on that scale. Does the university really need to charge us this much and make a profit off our graduation?”

Bobrick wrote an email to the bookstore questioning the high prices and environmental impact.

“$94.50 for a one time use outfit for graduation is not only negligent of the University of Delaware’s commitment to sustainability and humanity’s obligation to reduce consumption and waste,” Bobrick wrote. “But it is also completely ridiculous.”

Bobrick also says that she understands that a single source ensures uniformity, but questionswhy gowns were not reused by the university from year to year.

The bookstore responded to Bobrick’s email, confirming that they are the only provider to “ensure the integrity of regalia” and that students can reach out to the Dean of Students if they are in financial distress. They did not respond to her request for a pricing analysis on the gowns.

Representatives from Barnes and Noble and Herff Jones, the company who provides the university’s regalia, would not respond to The Review’s questions in person and requested to receive questions in writing.

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    Paul Redmond 1 year

    UVA tuition is roughly $15,000 more per year than UD, so we are going to complain about $95 for cap and gown versus spending an extra $60,000 over 4 years? They offer the ability to speak with the Dean of Students if they have financial issues. Seems to me that the $100 spent on cap and gown to celebrate your college degree is a small price. In the end, tough to find a better bargain than UD!!

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