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New CSA working group looking to alleviate graduation costs, offer cap and gown rentals

With graduation just around the corner, a new Carleton Student Association (CSA) working group is seeking to aid low-income students in getting the required caps and gowns. 

The cost for these graduation materials from the Carleton bookstore is currently $54.98. Caps and gowns are not covered by the commencement budget, according to Kerry Raadt, Director of Events.

CSA Representative Eliot Ayala ’19 created the working group with fellow class representative Emerson Herrera ’19. 

“Our goal is minimizing the cost of graduation,” said Ayala. “We’re encouraging low-income students to use these resources, but it would be open to everyone on campus.”

“We know that TRIO offers students some gowns, but there are some students that don’t qualify for TRIO but are still low-income,” added Herrera.

Ayala and Emerson plan to reach out to those who started the CSA textbook lending library, which lends textbooks to students for whom buying textbooks is a significant financial hardship free of charge on a term-by-term basis, according to the CSA website.

“It would be nice to have something like the CSA textbook lending library for caps and gowns,” said Ayala. 

He also noted that a system in which students borrow materials and return them each year would mean that the group wouldn’t have to purchase new gowns every year. 

“The closet would definitely be a return thing. I don’t see us buying caps and gowns yearly, so after that first year it wouldn’t cost a lot of money,” said Ayala.

Ayala and Herrera plan to source caps and gowns from donations as well as CSA funding.

“There is some interest from graduates who already own caps and gowns and don’t know what to do with them,” explained Herrera. “It doesn’t make sense to keep them when someone else could be using it, but we just don’t have a space to keep everything. So one way to get caps and gowns is donations—whoever is willing to part with their cap and gown would be able to give it to us and we would be able to sort it out by size and create that space.” 

“The more ambitious goal is to get funding to pay for this closet,” she added. “But the problem is it might be too ambitious for our class year, but we want to at least set something up to have it next year.”

Regarding the future of the working group, the two are looking to recruit students to help make the group operational.

“We have already set up a mission of what we want to do,” said Herrera. “Our next step is to recruit students who are interested in joining the working group. The more people we have, the more CSA will see the amount of interest there is in this.”

“I can see group members taking a few different roles. One is to get the word out there,” Ayala added. “Another one is physically managing how the gowns get distributed and how we keep track of who gets what. It is definitely more than a two person job.” 

Ayala also estimated that about a half dozen people are expected to join the group. 

The two are optimistic about the potential impact the new group could have on soon-to-be graduates.

“I can see [cap and gown rentals] being in high demand. I can see like a couple dozen caps and gowns, maybe more. It’s hard to measure the demand for this,” said Ayala.

“We all have to graduate and buy these things, but some of us are not financially able. Seniors already have comps and we’re looking for jobs, so it doesn’t make sense to be adding more stress on students. We want to alleviate this issue because it doesn’t make sense to buy that stuff—it shouldn’t be an extra worry,” concluded Herrera.

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