Graduates' Dress and Adornment for Commencement

DRESS: Graduates are reminded that Baccalaureate and Commencement are joyous but dignified occasions during which family members and friends manifest justifiable pride in their graduates. They preserve the occasion through video recordings and still photographs that become part of family histories. Graduates are expected to dress appropriately. While cool clothing and low-heeled, comfortable shoes are advisable, informal clothing and footwear (e.g., shorts, athletic shoes, rubber sandals) are not consistent with the spirit of graduation ceremonies.

CAP AND GOWN: The University's policy is that no "props" may be carried and the no unapproved adornment is worn on the graduating senior's cap or gown.

In keeping with the solemnity of Baccalaureate and Commencement, adornments are limited to insignia of discipline-specific honor societies which award those insignia to students who achieve honors in that major field and must be approved by the University Marshal, Professor Maryanne Simurda (

Petitions for approval should be directed to the University Marshal prior to April 1. The petition should make clear the organization the adornment represents, the number of individuals seeking to wear the adornment, where and how the adornment will be displayed on the gown, and the nature of the adornment (e.g., stole, pin, medallion). Submitters are encouraged to include a sample of the adornment, or a photograph accurately representing its size and, if possible, location on the gown. The University Marshal will notify the organization of the decision by May 1.

Personal adornment or props (e.g., canes, leis, tape on caps, pick axes, messages on gowns) are not consistent with the spirit of Washington and Lee's graduation ceremonies and will not be approved. Adornment representing social organizations or secret societies (e.g., social fraternities and sororities) will not be approved.

Graduates who appear at the undergraduate Baccalaureate or law or undergraduate Commencement lineup with unapproved adornment will be asked by student or faculty marshals to remove it. The University Marshal has the authority to prevent anyone in unapproved adornment from processing for each ceremony.

FOOD AND DRINK: Graduates may not bring beverages or food to Baccalaureate or Commencement. University staff place bottled water under each graduate's chair.