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  • Mitch Galloway

That’s Heady! Seeing Red

President Corey, Alexis Nichols , and Christine Wood revealing the new cap and gown for the class of 2016./Courtesy photos

As the collective voice of the Olivet College student body, the Student Government Association (SGA) knows how to make an impact. Their most recent accomplishment, an initiative to change the color of the graduation regalia to red, might be their most visible and historic achievement yet.

Starting in May, students graduating from Olivet College will now don caps, tassels and gowns in the official school color.

Senior Alexis Nichols, who will be among the first graduating class to wear the new uniform, spearheaded the project. “I was talking with some friends one day, and I was curious as to why we don’t have red caps and gowns,” Nichols said. “I just thought it would be so cool to graduate in my school colors. President Corey and Provost Davis thought it was a very cool idea, and it had never been brought up before. Other big colleges and universities graduate in their school colors, so why couldn’t we do it?”

According to Maria Davis, Ph.D., provost and dean of the college, Nichols set off on her own “quest” to change the graduation attire.

“She presented her case to me and convinced me that this was a worthwhile project to pursue,” Davis said. “She and I met several times to discuss options for a plan to develop buy-in from the campus community, but the work was all hers.”

How does this impact the college, though? Well, from this uniform transformation a new tradition could be created.

“Changing a longstanding tradition such as the color of a commencement gown requires careful thought and input from stakeholders,” Davis said. “Ultimately, it was decided that input from the campus community would help inform the decision, which because of its overarching impact, we felt could only be made by the president.”

From there, the SGA stepped in, as Nichols and junior Christine Wood, SGA president, took the reins on the new project. Together they worked to find student backing, garnering 250 signatures on a petition in support of the regalia change.

In total, they obtained 49 freshmen signatures, 43 sophomore signatures, 79 junior signatures and 79 senior signatures.

On behalf of the student body, and with backing from Davis, Nichols and Wood then presented their request to Corey, who fully supported the motion.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. “Ultimately, SGA’s goal is to make everyone’s experience more successful and enjoyable on campus, and this was something the students clearly wanted,” Wood said. “We’re very excited to see an auditorium full of red on graduation day!”


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