Seniors Complain About Attire

E.R. Moore, Harvard’s vendor for caps and gowns, claims to provide “quality and service since 1907,” but some graduating students at Harvard contend otherwise.

Students have complained that gowns from E.R. Moore, which cost $35 to rent with their matching caps, tend to soil clothing worn underneath the robes in inclement weather.

Fluorescent pink signs postered around the Harvard Coop warned, “In the event of rain or excessive humidity during Commencement, the dye in the gowns may discolor your clothing. Please DO NOT wear your gowns over valuable garments.”

Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez, who is graduating from the Graduate School of Education, said that the issue has been an unnecessarily “big concern.”

“The whole thing of discoloration has been a worry among my group of friends,” she said.

She said that although she will not be wearing any clothing of particular value under her gown, she is “crossing her fingers” that rain doesn’t cloud her graduation day.

And while Wilson Wang, a student graduating from the Kennedy School of Government, doesn’t find the rental price of the cap and gown particularly hefty at $35, he does find it interesting that “they bleed.”

“Given what you pay for a gown, it seems logical that the colors would not bleed,” he said. “I personally don’t have clothes that bleed, rain or no rain.”

“That’s why I’m not wearing anything under my gown,” he joked, adding that the possibility of the gown bleeding colors onto his clothes is not a large concern for him.

But those seeking to avoid such a fashion mishap may want to follow the advice of graduate Adina Gerver ’02-’03, whose Commencement experienced heavy rains. An e-mail authored by Gerver last year was forwarded to the Pforzheimer open list this weekend.

“The dye in the gowns runs a dark purplish color, which does not come out in the wash,” Gerver wrote last year in an e-mail. “Do NOT wear anything light under your gown.”

Gerver said yesterday that she avoided the permanent stains by wearing black.

Current forecasts for tomorrow’s Commencement predict a 50 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms.

Gerver said the downpour—or the stains—of her Commencement failed to dampen her friends’ spirits that day.

“We were really excited about to be done with College. A pair of pants isn’t that big of a deal in the long run,” Gerver said.

President of E.R. Moore Karen Hartmann declined to comment.

Allan Powell, the general manager of the Coop, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

—Staff writer Margaret W. Ho can be reached by mwho@fas.harvard.edu.