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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.22
Liaison Roxane Beigel-Coryell
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

Southern Oregon University
IN-25: Innovation B

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.00 / 1.00 Roxane Beigel-Coryell
Sustainability & Recycling Coordinator
Facilities Management & Planning
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Name or title of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome:
Graduation Caps and Gowns Reuse Program

A brief description of the innovative policy, practice, program, or outcome that outlines how credit criteria are met and any positive measurable outcomes associated with the innovation:

Upon completion of their degree work, Southern Oregon University (SOU) students are required to purchase a disposable cap and gown to wear at the commencement ceremony. The graduation regalia sold on behalf of the university are marketed as "green" robes made from natural wood sourced exclusively from renewable, managed forests; the fabric is proven to completely decompose in soil within a year. However, upon further investigation, students learned that the gowns will not completely decompose in soil within a year unless individuals remove the zipper, shred the gown, and have a productive compost system. Even so, students felt that having gowns that were only used once was wasteful and expensive. To remedy this situation, the Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center (ECOS) developed a Caps and Gowns Reuse Program.

Each year at the commencement ceremony collection bins are made available at each entrance and exit to the event for graduates to donate unwanted caps and gowns after the ceremony. The commencement program and the President's script during the ceremony both include an announcement to make graduates aware of the program. Collection bins remain in front of ECOS throughout the summer for graduates who decide to want to hold on to their gown after the ceremony for pictures.

During the academic year, all gowns are sorted by size and stored. In spring term, the gowns are made available for students planning to walk at the commencement ceremony for a reduced price. Gowns are sold for $10 each and caps for $5. This program benefits the campus and community on many levels. From keeping caps and gowns out of the landfill to providing affordable regalia to graduating students, this program has been a great sustainability initiative and a hugely successful campus service.


Which of the following impact areas does the innovation most closely relate to? (select up to three):
Campus Enagement
Waste
Diversity & Affordability

A letter of affirmation from an individual with relevant expertise or a press release or publication featuring the innovation :
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The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.