DePaul won’t expense regalia for 2021 graduates, despite petition



FILE- In this May 5, 2018, file photo, students attend the University of Toledo commencement ceremony in Toledo, Ohio. Colleges across the U.S. have begun cancelling and curtailing spring graduation events amid fears that the new coronavirus will not have subsided before the stretch of April and May when schools typically invite thousands of visitors to campus to honor graduating seniors.

Soon-to-be graduates are unsatisfied with DePaul’s lack of effort in providing proper accommodations for the Class of 2021. 

“Neither myself or classmates of mine that I’ve spoken to really feels like DePaul is treating the Class of 2021 with much respect or appreciation,” said senior Rachel Rudolph. “This past year has been kind of borderline insulting because they charge us full tuition,  and then like send us those phone wallets and masks, stuff that no one really wanted.”

DePaul announced Monday that there would be no in-person ceremony for the Class of 2021, though plans to have several on-campus events to celebrate graduates in May are underway. 

And, if graduates want regalia, they will have to pay full price. 

In response to the news, Rudolph started a petition to provide free regalia for all of DePaul 2021 graduates. The petition has over 700 signatures. 

Although DePaul froze tuition for the 2020-21 school year, many students are still in need of financial assistance. Rudolph argued that free regalia alone is not sufficient. 

“I don’t even really think that giving free robes is enough, but it would be a good starting point to make up for just this whole past year,” she said. “Not even to mention the fact that DePaul is going to be saving money by not having an in-person graduation.”

In response to The DePaulia’s request for comment, university spokesperson Kristin Mathews told The DePaulia that the university will not heed students’ request to pay for their graduation day attire and that instead, students will receive a “commencement kit” that includes memorabilia, like a diploma cover. 

“Ordering commencement regalia is completely optional,” Mathews said. “Graduates can purchase a cap and gown if they’d like for photos, family celebrations or the on-campus events. However, it is up to each graduate to decide whether or not the regalia will be part of their celebration.”

Other Chicago universities, like University of Chicago, offered free regalia to the Class of 2020 along with a free care package, according to Rudolph. 

Senior Bailey Didier said she believes that after charging a full year of tuition and charging regalia is “insulting.”

“I don’t believe we should have to pay for our cap and gowns because we’ve paid a year’s worth of full tuition while getting subpar education,” Didier said. “College dependents are really hurting financially, and we weren’t even included for the first stimulus check. Having to pay $70 just to receive regalia when commencement is already going to be online is insulting.”

Although there is a regalia scholarship to cover the fees, Didier said that it’s not enough for college students struggling to make ends meet. 

“DePaul has been stingy when giving out grants to students for things such as unpaid internships, so I have no reason to believe that they would act any differently for students going through the application process to receive financial assistance for their regalia,” she said. 

Rudolph requested comment directly from the university’s Office of Academic Events, as well, to which they sent a near-identical response as PR.

Rudolph said that if the university does not offer proper accommodations, it is not fulfilling the Vincentian mission it claims to abide by. 

“I would say that by asking us to buy the robes after paying a full year of tuition for a subpar education, you’re not really giving students dignity,” she said. “You’re not acting morally and you’re not paying attention to your poor and marginalized students. It feels kind of insulting to us and our achievements in spite of the pandemic that we would be expected to do that.”

“Making students fill out more paperwork just so they don’t have to pay $70 for their regalia, while the higher ups continue to make six figure salaries, in my mind does not promote dignity for students struggling to make ends meet,” Didier added.