Gown share program lets graduating Ducks give back

Commencement scene

This year, graduating University of Oregon students can reduce waste and pass along the special memory of graduation by participating in the Student Sustainability Center’s Grad to Grad Gown Share program.

The gown share program will gather used gowns from graduates and offer them to future Ducks in need. Students can drop off used gowns in large bins at the Erb Memorial Union’s Oregon Plaza or the Student Sustainability Center any time after graduation.

The program asks for only gowns. Students are expected to keep their caps and tassels for memorabilia.

This sort of program isn’t new to the Eugene area — the School of Journalism and Communication offers a similar program, as does the Duck Store — however, this year the sustainability center is partnering with the EMU to introduce the gown share program campuswide.

For its first year, the center is relying on students to make the gown share program a reliable place for future Ducks to receive graduation gear.

“We’re asking students to project a little bit in terms of how long are they going to keep their gown,” said Taylor McHolm, the sustainability center’s director. “Giving your gown forward to next year’s graduates can give that opportunity and same set of memories to someone who may not feel like they have access to these things.”

“We could get three, or we could get 300,” said Laurie Strother, EMU administrator.

The gown share program was facilitated by three students in the sustainability center. Julia Olson, Hachim Baguignan and Lya Carini have been organizing the logistics of the program over spring term.

“At the SSC part of what we’re thinking about is not just environmental impact, but also social equity and social impact as a fundamental core of sustainability,” McHolm said. “We see this as a project that can do both of these things.”

The EMU sees about 18,000 people on a normal day. McHolm and Struther hope manage the traffic that comes with graduation and give students an opportunity to turn in their gowns at GradFest, an EMU event that features a large buffet from Falling Sky.

The gown exchange program is also asking students who participate in the program to be conscious of preserving the gown for future generations.

“Not using heavy perfumes, being careful with cake, those kinds of things would make the gown last longer,” McHolm said. “As clean as we can get them back is going to make our lives easier and make the gowns a higher quality for next year.”

—By Bryan Dorn, University Communications