J.M Barrie’s 1922 rectorial address urging students to “fight on for the old red gown till the whistle blows” may need a slight revision. As St Andrews’ 600th anniversary celebrations continue, the University has introduced black gowns with the hope of including postgraduate students in the iconic tradition.
Previously, postgraduates would wear the gown and hood of their highest degree. However, the growing international postgraduate population prompted the introduction as many students had no gown to wear during special occasions. The black gowns are designed in the Cambridge MA style and adorned with the crest of St Leonards Postgraduate College. Ten are now available for hire from the Students’ Union shop.
Holly Patrick, Postgraduate President, said: “We are extremely encouraged by the opportunity to re-ignite a gown tradition for postgraduate students at St Andrews. Fostering collegiality at the postgraduate level must be a key priority for St Leonards College as the university moves into its seventh century.” She added, “The college gowns, proposed, developed and partly funded by the student body themselves, represent a tangible move forward in making postgraduates a more visible and recognisable community at St Andrews.”
Patrick O’Hare, Students’ Association President also sang the new gown’s praises. “The Students’ Association is extremely happy to support such an initiative which involves postgraduate students in one of St Andrews’ most beloved traditions. This was something that postgraduates wanted for events such as debates, pier-walks and formal academic functions. The gowns look absolutely smashing!”
Professor Dina Iordanova, Provost of St Leonard’s College was equally complimentary: “’Postgraduates in St Andrews are members of St Leonards College, our graduate school. They will now have the chance to be visibly distinct from their undergraduate peers.”
Gowns were introduced in 1672 to distinguish students, who were often young teenagers, from St Andrews’ locals as a means of alerting pub owners. The new gown’s introduction represents an attempt to capture St Andrews’ traditional past.