College campuses partake in various forms of “traditions” for the sake of it: the University of Chicago has their “Scavenger Hunt” every May, while North Carolina State University students feed into the nationwide Krispy Kreme addiction crisis and partake in the “Krispy Kreme Challenge.”
Here at Springfield College, the students and staff are about class, sophistication, and inclusion. This is why the campus has dubbed every Wednesday as “Bow Tie Wednesday”. This day, however, is not just about the strip of satin fastened to necks of students and staff alike; it’s about giving people a reason to have a conversation, a reason to look forward to Wednesdays, and a reason to feel as though they’re a part of something bigger than themselves.
Dr. Calvin Hill, known as “Dr. Chill” campus-wide, is the creator of this particular tradition. Hill hails from Marshall, Texas and is a married father of two. At Springfield College, he is the Vice President for Inclusion and Community Engagement. That means that he is, essentially, the chief diversity officer. He demands dignity and respect in all aspects of the school environment: in and out of classrooms, on the playing field, between students and professors, the list goes on and on.
Dr. Hill began his bow-tie affliction back in college, when he decided to have a “personal brand” and stand out from the crowd. However, he decided wearing bow ties every day would just be too excessive. Not knowing what he would soon cause, Hill started wearing bow ties every Wednesday.
“Bow-ties were like Hump Day,” said Dr. Hill. “It just gives everyone a halfway point and something to look forward to.”
Dr. Hill first began his liaison work on the campus of The University of Saint Thomas, a private Catholic institution located in Saint Paul, Minnesota. He noticed that they had a tradition on their campus called “Tommy Tuesdays”, which was similar to his own idea of personal branding in that everyone on campus would wear something related to Saint Thomas and something purple.
By the time Hill started working for Springfield College in the fall of 2015, he had already made his “personal brand” of bow ties back in college and decided to keep it going.
“It was about not only getting people excited about wearing a bow tie, but getting excited about doing something out of the norm.”
“One of the things I also started doing was the “Selfie With Dr. Chill”. When those students [wearing bow ties] would catch me on a Wednesday, my assistant Lisa would take one of the selfies they took with me and post it onto one of our social media accounts for the chance to win a “Pride Tie” and if you don’t know how to tie one [a bow tie], you can look at my Facebook page for instructions or come into my office and I will personally teach you how to tie a bow tie,” Hill said.
Dr. Hill went on to explain how, yes, Bow Tie Wednesday is a legit thing and the only thing you need to do to participate is to wear a Bow Tie on a Wednesday, especially for the chance to win a Pride Tie.
Pride ties are beautiful satin bow ties, colored maroon (of course) and only a select few are privileged enough to be awarded them. Though Dr. Hill knows that the student body primarily stick to a dress code of sweatpants and athletic t-shirts throughout the week, he encourages students to partake in Bow Tie Wednesday and wear it when they can, just to do something a little more different and exciting.
“For people that are shy, for people that want to make connections across campus, it’s a good way of breaking the ice, because it really does create the opportunity for people to have conversations,” he said.
“The number of people that come up to me and ask me if it’s real, or if it’s a clip-on, you know, it’s a great way to start a conversation with people. And then I get to learn about where they’re from, or what their major is… It’s just a good way for me to engage.”
For Dr. Hill, and everyone else who takes part, it’s not just about looking fancy and dressing up. Bow Tie Wednesday is about bringing people together, no matter race, age, gender, or any other factors that are usually employed to classify individuals. Instead, everyone wears bow ties on Wednesdays at Springfield College, breaking down the barriers between themselves and taking risks to bring people closer together.
Featured photo courtesy of Springfield Marketing & Communications