I’ll take the big stick

Mini-column ‘Alison in Wonderland’, published in the Observant, Maastricht
Funny things, graduations. I like wearing silly hats as much as the next person, but it does make you wonder. Whoever came up with the outfit? In the good old days, students wore full academic regalia every day. These days gowns are usually reserved for graduations, but if you decide to make a career of academia, you can still collect quite a number of silly outfits. UM professors, for example, wear red gowns at official ceremonies. The usual colour is black, but, so the story goes, the original Executive Board didn’t want its professors looking like priests. Another surviving tradition is the registrar’s staff; a big old stick that the registrar carries during the cortège, or procession of professors. It was originally intended to keep the unwashed hordes away from the genteel academics. Now that’s useful.

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