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Image: Patrice Winfield
Image: Patrice Winfield

The extension of the privilege of wearing a gown will apply to all members in 'the benches' during a defence. This means that, in addition to the supervisors and the chairperson, the co-supervisors, all other voting members of the doctoral committee, the advisory guest opponents and the guest experts will also be given the opportunity to wear a gown.

Equal in function

'The members of a PhD committee are part of the committee because of their explicit expertise. During the defence they have equal positions. They have the same rights and obligations, and everyone's judgment carries the same weight,’ says Rector Magnificus Peter-Paul Verbeek. 'By wearing or not wearing the gown, a hierarchical difference was suggested, which does not match the equality of all members in the context of the defence. We are now going to change that.'

Annelies Dijkstra, first beadle and head of the Office of the Rector, adds: 'There were increasing calls from both inside and outside the UvA to expand the gown privilege. I'm glad that that will happen in January. This actually takes us back to what the gown was once intended for: wearing it indicated that you belonged to academia. Wearing the gown during defences simply links the person to their role as an academic rather than where they stand on the hierarchical ladder.'

Previous expansion

The change in January will actually not be the first extension of the privilege. Until a few years ago, it was customary at the UvA that only professors were allowed to wear the gown. Since 2020, assistant and associate professors have also been allowed to wear a gown during a defence if they were the candidate’s supervisor or chair of the defence committee.

The extension of the gown privilege only applies to PhD ceremonies, not to other academic ceremonies at the UvA, such as inaugural lectures, farewell lectures or the Dies Natalis. On those occasions, wearing a gown remains reserved for professors.