Academic Dress Of Durham University
The academic dress of Durham University has many similarities with that of other older British universities such as Oxford and Cambridge. Most Durham colleges insist on gowns being worn on formal occasions, including matriculation and formal halls (dinners); exceptions are Van Mildert, St Cuthbert's Society (selected dinners only), Collingwood, Stephenson, St Aidans, and The College of St Hild and St Bede (matriculation only). Some colleges also insist on their being worn to Junior Common Room meetings, and they are often seen in college chapels. At formal halls, only gowns are worn and doctors normally wear their undress gowns; for more ceremonial occasions full-dress gowns and hoods are worn by graduates. Until 1990, the General Regulations of University 'recommended' the wearing of gowns by members of the University when attending divine service at the Cathedral – but this is now left to individual choice apart from at certain services (such as the Founders and Benefactors service). Gowns are also customarily worn to meetings of the university Senate by members of that body.
Regulations on the wearing of undergraduate gowns in college are technically set by the colleges themselves, but in many colleges the regulations are decided by the JCRs. Note that as some colleges do not wear undergraduate gowns, it is entirely possible to pass through an undergraduate degree at Durham, graduate in absentia, and never have to wear a gown. Alternatively, by attending a college with frequent formals (twice a week at Castle, Chad's and Hatfield) and attending evensong at the cathedral regularly, it is possible to spend a fair proportion of one's life in a gown.
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