As graduation looms ahead for seniors in many organizations across campus, policy for what is acceptable decoration to represent those organizations on graduation day remains in place, according to Dean of Students Keith Paylo.
“Policy is policy,” Paylo said in a phone interview. “The only cords that are acceptable in a sense for commencement are honors cords and the veterans cords.”
Graduation cords are given out by the registrar’s office to eligible seniors, according to Paylo.
“The veterans cords are camouflage looking, the honors cords are gold,” Paylo said. “That was a decision made years ago to give recognition to those who serve our country. The honors cords, of course, are something that have always been in place for those students who excel and are recognized not just as honors students, but those who graduate with honors.”
Paylo said he is always impressed by the number of honors cords during commencement.
“I have to say that I’m very proud that in our student body there are a number of students in our graduating class that do graduate with honors,” Paylo said.
Students who identify as members of other organizations do still have the option to represent their clubs with graduation stoles, decorative vestments in colors that adhere to the organization’s choice.
“Stoles are different in a sense that student organizations have decided to adopt those,” Paylo said. “We have not taken a hard line in eliminating them. It has just been a philosophy that it is respectful for students to…utilize that as a way to show pride for their organization.”
Allanah Owens, vice president of Black Student Union (BSU) and senior human resource management major, is one of those students who is proud to represent her organization.
“We knew that we wanted stoles to honor the seniors,” Owens said. “It’s something that is really important to us to honor those students who have been very involved in our club.
It’s a nice present for myself and the other senior on the executive board.”
BSU stoles are often identified by their black, red, green and yellow colors. The club’s executive board decided on a specific website, graduationstoles.com, for their seniors to choose and make customizations.
As far as costs go, stoles usually are a bit pricier than the $15-20 cords, usually averaging between $25-50.
Owens’ stole priced around $30, but at no cost to her due to duel funding from USG and BSU.
“We requested 15 for each of our two stoles,” Owens said. “They usually grant us half of the cost of each one. BSU has been providing the rest of the funds for senior stoles for the past three years.”
The USG finance committee reviewed funding for graduating senior stoles on March 9, according to USG Treasurer Justin Stocklas. Three organizations initially made requests for graduation ornamentation. BSU specifically asked for stoles, and Pre-Medical Club and Not On My Campus requested cords.
“No one has reacted in being upset,” Stocklas said. “There was just a bit of confusion regarding university policy.”
Paylo had a similar response.
“I’ve been at Point Park for 15 years and have not received any backlash at all in regards to that policy,” Paylo said. “There really just needed to be some clarifications. The university just doesn’t want each student group having different color cords because it takes away the intent of the cords as they were created.”
Whether students wear cords or stoles on the day of their commencement ceremony, Owens said they all share a sense of pride for what they have accomplished in their time here.
“It’s a proud moment to see all the cords and stoles because it shows that we did a lot,” Owens said. “I gave back to the school that provided me with all these resources and knowledge. It’s nice to recognize, ‘Wow, I had a lot of fun during it.’”