Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Oregon State University's student-run lifestyle magazine

Beaver's Digest

Latest issue

Grads Give Back encouraging students to donate regalia, looks to improve accessibility, outreach

Hayden Lohr, OMN Photographer
Staff at the Oregon State University Memorial Union desk pass student graduation gowns as a part of the Grads Give Back gown recycling program.

Oregon State University’s gown share program, Grads Give Back, is encouraging graduating students to donate their regalia this year, offering future graduates with limited resources the chance to receive a pre-owned gown. 

Kaylee Smith, the materials management administrative programs specialist for the program, said that on average, during the past six years, Grads Give Back receives about 50 undergraduate gowns, 10 masters gowns and some one-off doctoral gowns. 

The program runs on a first come, first serve basis and they tend to run out quickly. This year especially. 

According to Smith, they have already run out for this year. 

“The demand has been really high this academic year with students picking up the majority of our gowns over the winter term,” said Charlie Becker, operations manager at Memorial Union, where students can go to inquire about gowns. 

The Grads Give Back program began in 2018 through the collaborative efforts of the Associated Students of Oregon State University, Campus Recycling, Memorial Union and The Valley Library, to assist graduating students who might lack the resources to purchase regalia. 

Since overseeing the program, Smith has been brainstorming ways to spread awareness and encourage students to donate.

“There are lots of groups of people and friends who use their own community for gowns, but it’s less accessible,” Smith said. 

Smith does acknowledge the importance of community though.

“This is a little bit more of a sustainable option, but I don’t want to exclude the importance of just talking to your friends and asking to use their gown,” Smith said. “That’s a very very viable option.”

Even though graduates can donate their gowns any time of the year beginning on Commencement Day, according to Smith, it can be difficult in terms of timing, collection points, and circumstances that prevent students from donating.

“They’re wearing their robes to take pictures, they’re going home, they’re going to restaurants and they’re going to their grad parties in town… the robes get lost in the mix” Smith said. “After graduation, there’s not a real reason why you would come back onto campus”

To remedy this, Smith’s biggest challenge and hope is to make gown and regalia donations a part of OSU’s culture by preparing the OSU community from day one about this program, not just the last term.

Since the uptick in students seeking regalia beginning Spring term, gowns continue to be highly sought after. 

“We are fielding 10-20 emails/phone calls each day with requests for gowns that we are unfortunately having to pass on that we are all out,” Becker said. 

Smith is currently brainstorming potential plans to increase donations in the future.

“One thing I want to do with this program is reach out to the Alumni Association and do a big marketing for it around graduation,” Smith said. She is also working on ways to make donating more convenient.

Smith said that she would like to set up a paid postage fund as a way to make mailing in donations easier, as well as opening up conversations around external drop-off points more convenient for donors, such as the Corvallis library.

For this year’s upcoming graduates, Becker said that although there are currently no gowns available, more could potentially be donated throughout the term. Students in need of graduation attire can inquire about available inventory through the Memorial Union information desk or submit an email form with what they’re looking for.

Commencement Day this year takes place on June 15. 

After this year’s commencement, Graduates are encouraged to donate their regalia at a drop off location that will be posted outside Reser Stadium after the ceremony. 

If students are unable to donate that day, but would still like to donate, they can visit the Valley River Library on June 16 and 17. Donations are also accepted year-round in person or by mail to 2501 SW Jefferson Way, MU 112, Corvallis, OR 97331. 

For more information about the program, students can visit OSU’s Grads Give Back resource page

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