Recently, the regalia worn by graduates during commencement ceremonies was changed. At first the change was mandatory, and SFA Barnes and Noble was the only place the appropriate regalia could be purchased. The mandate was revoked after receiving backlash from the community; now students graduating this December will be able to wear the old regalia to graduation. The reversal of the mandate is a good thing.
During a time when students feel like they are not being listened to, how quickly the University responded by changing the mandate was a good sign. The SFA community has been struggling this semester, and it's safe to say everyone has been frustrated. When the initial change of guidelines for regalia came along, so suddenly and out of nowhere, frustrations arose. Normally, graduates purchase their regalia months ahead of their commencement ceremony, and University officials did not make a formal announcement until a few weeks ago – after much of the graduating class had already purchased regalia from stores like Kampus Books. The University realized the mistake and responded quickly. This response shows the University cares about its students and is a symbol of hope for the SFA community.
The change back to former guidelines for the upcoming graduation was quick but expected. After all, the University is just another type of business. It relies on student enrollment for revenue; if students do not enroll because they feel like the school is trying to get more money out of them through the regalia, they will lose money. It makes sense that they would want to appeal to their customers.
On top of all of that, seniors were emailed about the change before anybody else knew. SFA made sure that the people being affected by the mandate knew before anyone else. And again, when they reversed the mandate, the graduating students were notified first. Seniors were always being informed about changes in the regalia guidelines and were not left in the dark.
From a different perspective, University officials could be seen as weak or pushovers for giving in to demands from the public. We must remember that universities should constantly be improving, and it is necessary for officials to listen to us in order to achieve that. Plus, it is toxic to think of your school as “weak” for listening to something that the students want.
It should not be bad that the University wants to improve the regalia, and it should not be bad that they went back on their mandate to make everyone happy. At the end of the day, everyone got what they wanted.