University of California Hastings College of the Law will implement a new pre-ceremony hooding procedure for the 133rd Commencement, to be held Saturday, May 10, 2014 at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
In lieu of on-stage hooding by UC Hastings faculty volunteers, hooding this year will take place before the Commencement Ceremony. Graduates are free to invite an alumnus or alumna of their choice, or a family member or friend who has supported them over the last three years, to perform the hooding. Faculty volunteers will also be on hand to perform hoodings. The pre-Ceremony hooding alternative is voluntary. Graduates may also elect to simply affix their hoods to their academic attire themselves.
The new pre-ceremony process was developed together by UC Hastings administration and the 3L class council. “The main goals were to shorten the ceremony and make it so that everyone has the chance to be hooded by someone important in their lives,” says Rupa Bhandari, Director of Student Services. “Think of it like those wedding photos people do before the wedding ceremony.”
“The former on-stage hooding procedure was cumbersome and created a bottleneck in the procession, which caused delays in the commencement exercises,” explains Molly A. Jones, a member of the 3L class council. “These delays ultimately detracted from the more meaningful act of receiving diplomas. We appreciate that the administration has continued this custom, but as many law schools have discovered, it is impractical for graduating classes of our size to continue the hooding on stage.”
“Having said that,” adds Jones, “we think it's important to maintain the tradition for those students who would value the opportunity to symbolically commemorate their successful completion of law school in a more dignified yet celebratory manner. What better way to celebrate joining the ranks of law school graduates than a beautiful photo in San Francisco's historic Civic Center? In the past, hooding occurred on stage, but the official photographers did not capture the moment. The pre-Ceremony alternative has the added benefit of allowing any family member or friend, in addition to UC Hastings alumni, to perform the hooding (although volunteer faculty will also be on hand to assist if requested).”
In medieval cities, the everyday dress of many citizens was similar to that worn by the participants in this commencement ceremony. The costumes of the medieval guilds and early religious orders evolved into academic garb in the 12th and 13th centuries when universities were first taking form. Different degrees are symbolized by slight variances in the color and design of gowns and hoods. The two degrees being conferred today adhere to this academic tradition.
The original purpose of the gown was to provide warmth in unheated buildings. The design indicates the degree earned. The gown for the master’s degrees (LL.M. & MSL) is untrimmed and has an oblong sleeve. The gown for the doctoral degree (J.D.) is trimmed in velvet with three bars across the sleeves and facing down the front; it has a bell-shaped sleeve.
The hood traditionally served as a cover for the tonsured head and indicates the subject matter of the degree and the faculty from which it was awarded. During the ceremony, the hood is placed on the graduate to recognize the academic accomplishment and to welcome the graduate into the society of professionals. At UC Hastings, hoods are lined with a blue chevron on a gold ground to represent the University colors. The color of the velvet edging on the hoods represents the subject in which the degree is earned: for law, the color is purple. The tassel is placed on the left side of the cap, which indicates an advanced degree.