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Tom Marshall's The Burro '03

"CAP AND GOWN."
BY B. F. Stacey, A. M. '03

In writing for a college annual I believe it is customary for each article to begin by saying that that particular year will go down in the history of the institution as a year of innovations. That it will mark the beginning of a new life, a broader outlook and a larger hope. Taking it for granted that the custom will be followed in this instance, I will say that one of the greatest innovations of the year, and a fitting climax to them all. is the introduction of the "Cap and Gown--the "Society Dress." the -Galaday" attire of colleges and universities. I believe it will not be out of place to say at this point. also. that the wearing of the cap and gown has long since ceased to be a fad. It is just as much a time-honored custom as commencement, itself. and is just as much the "proper thing- on that occasion--the day of all days in the student's life-as is the "dress suit" or "full dress- at certain other social functions.

There are a number of reasons why the friends of the university, and especially those intimately connected with it, should favor the custom of wearing the cap and gown:

1. In the first place, besides being very inexpensive, especially since one may hire instead of buy the graduating costume does away with the difference in dress arising from different tastes, fashions, and degrees of wealth, and lends picturesqueness and dignity to the scene. We are invariably moved when we witness soldiers or fraternal orders parading the streets or performing their ceremonies, because uniformity and continuity always strike the mind and awaken enthusiasm. It is hard to imagine anything more impressive than a large body of men, all in regular uniform, performing such evolutions as are required of soldiers and sailors: and it would be equally difficult to imagine anything more ludicrous than the same body of men going through the same evolutions in the various styles of clothing worn as citizens -ranging from overalls and cotton scull cap. to dress suit and high hat-and without any attention given to uniformity of arrangement, One can get a fair idea of the contrast by comparing in his mind a regiment of soldiers with "Coxy's Army." If we apply this same principle to our graduating exercises we can readily see, without a very great stretch of imagination, the value of the cap and gown.

2. In the next place, the cap and gown firmly symbolize an element in the educational life of today that should be encouraged. Some one has truly remarked that "we are quite given to cutting loose from the past our social, religious and intellectual life." The tendency in every department is to adopt modern ideas and methods. The word "new,' is continually recurring in connection with organizations, movements and institutions. We have the "new charity," the "new patriotism," the "new theology," the "new learning" and even the "new woman." Everywhere abounds what Dr. Bellows called "the philosophy of newness." We have no complaint to make against this tendency, however, for it is rapidly changing and improving the conditions of mankind it is one of the necessary factors of development in all our social, industrial and political institutions, and nowhere has this tendency been more noticed than in our college curricula, and in the character of the subjects treated by, and in the degrees conferred upon, the graduating classes. Instead of finding fault with the tendency, however, we are glad to know that our educational institutions are not only keeping up with the progressive movements of the time, but are actually taking the lead, as they should. On the other hand, as some one has remarked, it cannot be denied that the natural effect is to disturb a sense of the continuity and gradual evolution of our knowledge. The learning of mediaeval times is the parent of our modern education, Step by step it has advanced, "here a little and there a little, eliminating crude errors, changing astrology into astronomy, alchemy into chemistry, one theory of air and heat and electricity into another, until the knowledge of material things run to and fro throughout the earth," But our present learning has its roots, nevertheless, in the past, and it seems to the writer that instead of breaking away wholly from the customs and ideas that gave birth to and made possible our present educational life, we should show a sort of "recapitulation," as the biologist would say, by adding and retaining the useful characters which have been developed during our educational history, and which have proved their utility by their persistency and adaptability. One of our eastern educators has said: "The graduates' costume at commencement seems to join together all the centuries of progress, to associate all scholars the world over, and to give emphasis to the universal fellowship of intellectual development. It is suggestive of the source from which the large and varied results of the present have sprung. The cap and gown of the scholar at commencement is a pleasing reminder of the vast brotherhood of intellectual and moral training and the fellowship of colleges for all time," This idea of the cap and gown is found to be in harmony with the law of expression noticed in other organizations and institutions which trace their histories, back to a remote past. Such organizations and institutions manifest in signs, symbols and regalia, the principles and processes that have descended from antiquity: and the benefit derived from calling attention to, and placing emphasis upon, their long course of development and successful career, can hardly be over estimated.

As the old castle and cathedral awaken our interest in and call our attention to the gradual development of our political and religious institutions, so the cap and gown, by a like law of association, awakens our interest in and calls our attention to the gradual development of our educational institutions and ideas. They tend to produce what Prof. Giddings calls a it consciousness of kind." and in doing this they emphasize and strengthen the bond that binds the present to the past making our educational life of today a part of a grand, developing whole. It is an encouraging fact that "in connection with the prevalent modernism of our bare American life, there is perpetuated a round of formularies and customs that keep us somewhat in sympathy with the medievalism out of which we have come." We have little enough reverence at best, so we are glad to note an increasing interest in the life of other days-in the manners and customs, the laws and institutions, the art and literature upon which our modern civilization has been built up.

3. In the third place, the cap and gown appeals to our sentiment and satisfies a demand of our nature. People, today, young and old alike, are impressed by scenic displays--something that appeals to their sentiments and awakens their interest--and these things are just as legitimate in the field of education as in politics or fraternal orders, or religious ceremonies. It seems to the writer that "the mind is so constructed by the Creator that the senses, the sciences and the sentiments should cooperate in human advancement," and that we lose much from life unless we develop it as a symmetrical whole.

In speaking of the unattractiveness of most of our religious services, and in making a plea for a revival of ceremonials in the services of the church, a well known clergyman says. "It is a question, indeed, whether our administration of religion may not learn something from educational usages, and conceal its barrenness by draperies, processions, music and art, and so express the religious emotions and aesthetic demands which are as much God-given qualities as logic or social affection, We are getting behind the creeds of the reformation * * * * why not get back of the desolation wrought in worship, architecture and ceremonialism by the puritans and clothe liberal thought and devotion in the variety and richness of expression that belongs to all the powerful emotions of our nature. We find no difficulty in patriotic demonstration, and should be equally at home in the proper embodiment of faith and knowledge." This is a tacit acknowledge that even religion, the most powerful factor in social control, is cold and barren and unattractive when robbed of these external qualities which appeal directly to the sentiments and stir the emotions: and I think we are justified in saying that, no matter what its character may be, only so far as an institution, which depends on the public for support appeals to popular sentiment and gratifies the demands of human nature, can it expect to succeed; and that the institution that is most willing to recognize and best prepared to meet these demands, is the one that will jive and prosper and accomplish its purpose. It is a clear case of natural selection, a survival of the fittest. Any institution that depends on the public both for its support and its material, would show a lack of wisdom and business ability if it did not make itself as attractive as possible, and do all in its power to win public regard and create in its friends a feeling of pride and devotion. But this can be done only by taking into account the whole of man's nature and meeting its various demands. That the cap and gown appeal strongly to the aesthetic taste cannot be doubted. The fact that they are so universally worn, and that the largest, most prosperous and most renowned of our educational institutions are loudest in their praise would seem co be sufficient evidence that they have a practical utility, for it is hard to believe that the foremost men of our time would encourage and perpetuate the custom if it were only a dead and worthless form.

4. Again, the friends of the university should favor the adoption of the cap and gown because the action indicates to the public that the principle educational institution in the territory, the school to which the people of the territory in trust the training of their boys and girls, does not believe in the popular heresy that "anything is good enough for Arizona." It is virtually saying that nothing is good enough for Arizona that is not good enough for any other section of our country. and that as it is it is the duty of each individual to be self-respecting and to honor and be guided by the rules and regulations, the customs and ideas that society has found useful and necessary in its various associations, so it is much more the duty of our educational institutions, since they have entrusted to them the transmission of a large body of our knowledge and social tradition, and the training and guidance of the boys and girls to whom each generation looks for its leaders in every department of life, to comport themselves with proper dignity and not only to place themselves in line with the best institutions in the land, but to respect and be guided by, whatever customs and methods have been found to be educationally and socially useful, and that indicate to the people that they have a proper conception of their importance and are worthy of confidence and respect.

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