May 11, 2007

Another graduation feather conflict

Feathers prohibited at graduation attire at NSUWarren Hawk graduated Saturday with a master’s degree in education. But before the commencement ceremony began, organizers told him he would have to remove the eagle feather and medicine wheel he was wearing.

According to Hawk, a member of the Lakota tribe, organizers threatened to have him removed from the ceremony by campus police if he didn’t comply with the graduation dress code: gown, cap, and a rope of a specific color (depending on the degree obtained) around the neck, but no feathers.
Comment:  Conflicts like this between Indian students and school officials occur every year. I've noted this particular story because it's the first one since I began doing this blog.


sara JE said...

The email addies for Mr. Nowlin and Mr. Weaver at NSU (the Dean of admissions and university relations respectively):)

maybe they should hear what the rest of the world outside of white Oklahoma thinks about it!

Anonymous said...

All schools have certain regulations pertaining to dress code at university ceremonies.I think the school is seeking consistency.It would not be fair or consistent for school officials to allow native americans special rights pertaining to adornments on their robes, and deny fraternities, sororities, christian organizations those same rights. Does that make sense? Feathers, medicine wheels, etc. could be worn under the robe. NSU made a few girls remove their crosages as well. I agree with NSU policy here.

Anonymous said...

Hm, I do understand the point that they are trying to preserve academic culture here. And I do think, one should not adorn the academic robes themselves and that things such as crosses, medicine wheels, or other symbols belong under the regalia. But whatever you wear in your hair should be of no concern. And if anybody needs examples on how to combine academic traditions and a form of native adornment for passing a test: Look at the graduation ceremonies in Hawaii. Unimaginable that somebody would forbid the graduates to wear the traditional haku, fern and flower headbands around their caps, or the doyzens of lei (no way you wear these under your robe or take them off for the actual ceremony).

Aloha from the islands

Rob said...

I agree that schools could find a compromise between nothing and anything if they tried. Some schools have allowed feathers and civilization has yet to collapse. In fact, I don't think anyone noticed once the controversy ended.

This notion that all students must look the same is an artificial construct, not a natural law. So what if some students look slightly different? Whom exactly does it harm, and how?