There will be important VIP guests as well as proud parents and teachers. However, the real stars of the event are the graduating students. It is fitting, as they come up on stage to receive their KYUEM Graduation Certificates, that they look their best on such an auspicious occasion. The definition of "looking one's best" is, however, open to various and sometimes conflicting interpretations.
Some educational institutions around the world require their graduating students to wear specially designed gowns, frequently with accompanying mortar boards. In a multicultural society such as Malaysia, there is a strong preference for wearing one's own national dress. Many of our seniors here at KYUEM have expressed such a preference, and while I am happy to oblige them, I feel I have to lay down one or two minor, but sensible conditions beforehand.
It is surprisingly easy in most countries of the world to give offence to others simply because of the way you dress. The exposing of too much flesh can cause embarrassment to those who favour modesty in people's attire. Too much uniformity on the other hand, denies students the opportunity to demonstrate their cultural background and heritage. As on many occasions in the past, I am required as Headmaster to find a middle way between differing (and sometimes extreme) viewpoints. So, for the Awards Day of 2014, we require our graduating students to observe these simple rules:
- By all means come in your national dress.
- Wear dark or muted colours.
- Do not expose too much skin.
- Think of the sensitivities of others when choosing what to wear.
We will be having a major dress rehearsal on Thursday, June 19, and I want all the graduating students on that occasion to wear the same clothes that they will be wearing to the event. We will take a digital photo of each one of them at the time. On the day itself, we will make sure that each student is wearing what s/he was wearing at the dress rehearsal. If there are any changes, and these are considered to be too extreme, s/he will be required to change into something more modest.
My aim here is simple: to ensure we cause no offence to anyone and for the Awards Day to be the glorious celebration for which it is intended. I'm sure sensitivity and common sense will prevail for the sake of everyone and for the enjoyment of us all.