The Cap and Gown Monopoly?

The Cap and Gown Monopoly?

Ainsley Maddalena

At Lake Travis High School, the district works with Balfour.   Balfour is the Lake Travis Independent School District’s partner and supplier for yearbooks and, you guessed it, cap and gowns. Ah yes, the ol’ cap and gown. The black square hat and nuns’ robe that every senior wears to walk across the stage during one of the most memorable occasions in one’s life time. I say ONE of the most memorable because you only wear your high school cap and gown once. 

Graduating and walking across the stage is the highlight of any senior’s career. High school is in the dust and a new chapter of independence awaits. Graduation should be a stress free occasion spent with family and close friends, celebrating the end of an era. However, capitalism and monopolies can ruin good times like these. 

On a Tuesday during English class, a woman from Balfour came into my AP English classroom and talked with us about cap and gowns and how we should go about ordering them. She said that if we did not order them by that Thursday or Friday during our lunch, they must be ordered online in which a $10 fee would be issued. If ordered past March 13th, an additional $25 fee would be initiated. 

I completely understand issuing a fee after a certain date because orders may need to be rushed and all that but my main concern stems from the original price. I am very fortunate that I am able to pay the $40 fee and that I was able to get my order in during my lunch period that Friday. However, there are students that either cannot afford to spend $40 on a polyester black cloak and quadrilateral hat or make it to lunch to avoid the online fee. 

The woman from Balfour made it extremely clear to our class that we could not order our cap and gown online and that, if we knew someone who was our height and weight (give or take a few inches and pounds), we could borrow their cap and gown so long as it came down to mid calf. Personally, I do not know any past graduates with the same measurements and I do not believe that many of my fellow graduates do either. When a classmate asked if students can order a cap and gown off Amazon or another online retailer in hopes of getting it cheaper, she said no. Her reasoning? The blacks would not match.

If the school and Balfour is going to make such a big deal about “blacks not matching” then I think they should enlist a system to help those who cannot afford their cap and gown. If a student cannot afford a cap and gown, they cannot walk. Or, if a student thinks that spending $40 is absurd, they may omit the process of walking entirely simply based on the fact that they know they are throwing away money on fast fashion, if you will. I suggest that there should be a process in which past graduates can donate their used cap and gowns to the school so that students who cannot afford their own can rent them from the school. This will save students and parents money, as well as decrease the carbon footprint of one-time-use manufactured polyester robes year after year.