Trend watch: Do cords go with every outfit?

May 2nd, 2013

With graduation quickly approaching, some students have raised questions about some of the traditions that John Carroll University’s Commencement entails. One of these questions is the reasoning behind who gets to wear honor cords at graduation.

Each graduate wears a cap and gown and is given a medal or cord depending on their membership in certain groups. “Scholars of the University,” which are members of the Honors Program, the Arrupe Program and the Leadership program, wear a blue, gold, or blue and gold cord. Members of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society at JCU, wear a medal on a maroon ribbon.

These cords and medals are the only approved addition to the cap and gown for the Commencement ceremony, and they are approved through the Office of the Provost and Academic Vice President along with the efforts of Deena DePenti, the coordinator of Commencement.

For a long time, these were the only groups that were allowed to have the cords and medals in addition to their cap and gown. But changes were made to that policy in 2011.

Provost and Academic Vice President John Day said, “In 2011, on the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the founding of John Carroll, we did add the Arrupe Scholars and the Leadership Scholars to those entitled to wear cords at graduation.”

To date, there have been two requests to change the policies of who gets special recognition at Commencement.

The ROTC program requested a change in March to alter the apparel for their graduates in light of the Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient General Carter Ham.

Day said, “After consultation with the deans, I decided not to approve this request, but we did agree to list the newly commissioned officers in the Commencement program, which is done on a number of campuses but not at John Carroll before this year.”

The other request was made by the faculty advisor of the French Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi. The request was made on the behalf of the six graduating members of the society.

“Again after consultation with the deans, I decided that we would not approve this request, for several reasons,” Day said.

He continued, “We had turned down the request concerning ROTC. Second, approving the request of one departmental honor society at this late date did not provide students in similar honor societies the opportunity to wear cords. Third, as described above, it has been the practice at John Carroll to limit the number and variety of cords, medals, pins, et cetera worn at Commencement.”