Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 09:30:01 -0400 (EDT)

Greetings.  Many people, from all areas of the department, enlivened the
various social gatherings of last week... We may be starting a nice tradition.

Remember to come to that most traditional social: MMC at 10 in the lounge!
Speaking of traditions...

            The `Dress Up Fridays' Tradition, by Sir C. L. Nitram.

The almost-forgotten tradition of "dress-up Fridays" in the Computer Science
Department consisted of dressing the way corporate people were permitted to
dress on their own "dress-down Fridays." For example, men wore coat and tie,
denim shirt and khakis (but not business suits); women forewent jeans for
formal pants or a dress (but wouldn't go as far as the conservative navy
power suit).  This ritual was observed mostly by graduate students, never
attaining the majority, and sometimes took place on days other than Friday.

Historians and sociologists disagree on the origin and meaning of this
peculiar tradition. It is said to have begun sometime in the mid-nineties,
when some deviant members of the department reacted against the stereotypes
about nerdy computer scientists.  Other scholars say it started as emulation
of one of the most successful graduate students (a theoretician), who on
graduation went on to the big time in a glamorous job in Wall Street.

Some researchers have attributed this sartorial ritual to the yearning of
graduate students to become "real, grown people," renouncing, once a week,
the child-like comforts of sneakers and jeans.  Others claim that it was an
iconoclastic gesture, a statement about the intellectual slavery of graduate
students, often hidden by the apparent freedom of a loose dress code.
Although some argue against that theory pointing out the absence of Brooks
Brothers suits or Liz Claiborne 9 to 5 outfits, others see that as further
proof of the dismal living conditions of graduate students back then.  Along
those lines, some speculate that dressing corporate was an ingenious
expression of the graduate students' basic drive (getting free food), by
passing themselves off as guests of various university administration bashes.
Still others claim that men wore ties to restrict the flow of blood to their
brains, so they could think like managers, but this leaves the other gender

Finally, some investigators deny the existence of the tradition altogether,
attributing the occasional tie or black pumps to the ancient mating rituals
associated with obtaining funding for research, epitomized by the "demo," or
to other mating rituals connected with employment, epitomized by the
"interview."  Given the cultural context of the Happy Valley, it is safe to
rule out a sartorial connection to other mating rituals (epit. by the "date").

Although this curious tradition has all but disappeared, on a clear day you
may still spot a well dressed graduate student or two wandering the corridors
of the department.  Please be kind to those harmless anachronisms.