The most senior member of the faculty is chosen to serve as the Faculty Marshal to carry the mace during the commencement ceremony. The Student Government Association president serves as the Student Marshal carrying the academic gonfalon. Traditionally, members of the Dorcas Society are selected to serve as Student Marshals to lead segments of the academic procession and recession.
The Platform Party
The platform party is the first group in the academic procession. The group includes the President of the College, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, a representative from the Board of Trustees, the campus minister and invited honored guests, such as the commencement speaker.
Young Harris College Student Ambassadors are the College’s student public relations team and represent the College at a variety of programs and events. One of the largest of these events is Commencement, where the ambassadors serve as ushers, hosts and hostesses to families and guests.
The practice of wearing academic attire connects contemporary graduates with scholarly traditions that extend back to medieval times and the Renaissance, when it was the custom for clerics, ecclesiastics and scholars in European universities to wear gowns, caps and hoods. Although the wearing of the garb is now limited to formal occasions, the garb itself may be called the uniform of the professional scholar and teacher. A costume for commencement has been a tradition since the beginning of higher education in America. The style and color serve as symbols of collegiate attainment. The long sleeves of the gowns and the deep hoods were, on occasion, used to carry books and refreshments. Each European university developed its own style of garb with strict rules for its design. In the United States, however, most American colleges have agreed on a uniform design and color code.
Holders of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees wear black gowns; the pattern and trimming differ for each degree. Originally, the bachelor’s gown was made of serge or worsted and the master’s of serge, worsted or silk; but now synthetic fibers are also used. The bachelor’s gown is distinguished by its long pointed sleeves. The master’s gown has long sleeves with a slit for the arm at either the elbow or the wrist. Doctor’s gowns are adorned with velvet panels and bars that may be black or of a color distinctive to the wearer’s discipline.
Holders of all degrees wear caps, popularly known as mortarboards, to which a long tassel is fastened and which hangs over the left side of the cap. Doctors may wear tassels of gold thread. Holders of bachelor’s and master’s degrees may wear black or the color appropriate to the academic discipline.
The academic hood is an ornamental fold that goes around the neck and hangs down the back of the gown. The length and shape of the hood vary with the level of the degree. Hoods are generally lined with the colors of the college or university that granted the degree and trimmed with the color representing the faculty by which the degree is granted.