Paying for commencement

Graduates shouldn’t have to pay up in order to celebrate their achievements.

by Daily Editorial Board

During convocation — the official welcome to the University of Minnesota — each member of the Class of 2013 was presented with a tassel to remind them of their intended graduation year. Now, those students are preparing to wear that tassel during the upcoming commencement ceremonies this May along with a few others that have made it to this point a little slower or faster than others.

Completing a degree is a milestone to be celebrated. However, many University graduates will choose not to walk in their commencement ceremonies this spring.

While the cause for this could be the impersonal nature of massive graduation ceremonies and the sheer amount of time it will consume, a portion of graduates’ disinterest could be motivated by the cost to participate in commencement.

While a cap and gown are not required, as the College of Liberal Arts’ commencement page points out, “99 percent of students choose to wear academic regalia.” This gear comes at a price — $35 for a gown, gap and tassel at the University bookstores or $33 and $6 for a gown and cap, respectively. Often times, a group of students with different commencement ceremonies will purchase one set and trade it, thus sharing the cost.

After paying tuition for about 16 semesters, another $35 seems insignificant. But it is a shame that graduates feel the need to pay in order to participate in their commencement ceremonies — an honor and rite of passage upon successful completion of a degree.

The University should instate a college-wide gown rental program so students don’t have to pay to blend in at graduation or abolish academic regalia altogether.