By Robert Beeland
In a vote ending on March 15, the members of the Order of the Gownsmen voted in favor of the referendum on changing its name to the “Order of the Gown.” In an email sent to members late that night, Order of the Gown President Sarah Tillman Reeves (C’17) revealed that the just over 70% of votes in the referendum, requiring a two-thirds majority in order to be passed, were cast in favor of the name change. “I think this is a first, major and necessary step in the path I envision for the Order, one of community engagement and activism,” Reeves stated in an interview with The Purple. Reeves made the name change a priority for her tenure as OG President, proposing the referendum after having orchestrated a “Breaking Down the Gown” panel last semester where issues surrounding the gown and the name of the Order were discussed.
According to Reeves, the name change referendum had been brought up four, possibly five times before this year. Most recently, the referendum had been proposed in 2015 by former OG President Alec Hill (C’16). “This change has been a long time coming, and I’m very proud of [Reeves] for making it happen. It took a lot of hard work and I’m grateful for her leadership,” Hill said.
The result of the referendum was met with displeasure from many students, some of whom felt that the motivation behind the change was misguided. J.D. Thompson (C’17), who voted against the name change, expressed that he “[does not] particularly value the tradition of the original name,” but instead took issue with the political context in which the referendum was proposed. “This idea that changing the name represents some great progressive accomplishment is, in my opinion, completely absurd,” said Thompson.
Effective immediately, the Order should be referred to as the Order of the Gown. This is the first time since the Order’s founding in 1873 that the name has been officially changed.