By Maegan Clearwood
When the graduating seniors stride down the green each spring, with multicolored, vibrant cords draped around their necks, there is one question students fail to address: What does it all mean? For some, cords worn at graduation represent achievement in any number of areas; for others, it should be reserved for academics. With no official policy, however, many are seeking clarification.
Senior resident assistant Lauren Feeney is one such curious student. She is a member of the RA recognition committee, and wanted RAs to be represented at commencement. She emailed various faculty heads, detailing her plans and asking about their honor society’s cords. “We have an excellent, creative, talented staff this year and I wanted to create a way for all of that creativity and talent to shine through to the rest of the campus body,” Feeney said. “Having this idea in mind, I wanted RA’s to be able to wear honor cords on graduation day…In response to my e-mail, I had some depart- ment chairs excited about the idea, and others were not so excited.”
Many faculty members opposed the suggestion because of what they think cording should represent. The e-mails Fee- ney sent out “got some push back from faculty who say that academic cords are for academic-related issues and are inappropriate for RAs,” said Director of Residential Life Carl Crowe.
According to Dean Patrice DiQuinzio, cords are traditionally reserved for academic honors. “We have had an informal policy that graduation cords are to receive academic achievements, however the RA’s request has brought it to my attention that there are other groups that use cords without any other approval, so we may need to sit down and come up with a written policy,” DiQuinzio said. “The basic principle is that cords are to recognize academic achievements, but I don’t know if we have any mechanism for enforcing that.”
With no official policy for graduation cords, the request for RA recognition made many faculty members question the cords’ purpose.
“In my view, cords represent academic achievement, so my gut feeling is that cords would not be an appropriate choice,” said Psychology Professor Lauren Littlefield. “The guidelines for receiving most honor society cords are dictated by national organizations. Academic advisors then adhere to the established national cut-offs for determining local recipients.”