Rhodes’ Overall symbol

Report by Dumisa Lengwati & Taryn Isaac, School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University
Journalism, Rhodes University, RUTV4, School of Journalism and Media Studies, student TV, South Africa, Grahamstown,
Workers overalls are seen to be Rhodes University’s party uniform, but is this view taken by everyone?
The SRC in collaboration with the Alumni House recently attempted to break the world record for the biggest pair of overalls. It was organised in accordance with Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as part of their student philanthropy day. If successful, the overalls will be hung from the Clock Tower, and this image will be distributed to alumni donors in the form of a thank you card. However, not all students and staff agree with the symbol and association of overalls with Rhodes’ infamous and wild drinking party culture. Some worry about the problematic potential class divide, insofar as overalls being the visual marker for the working class. Others feel excluded as they are not akin to the Rhodes tradition of celebrating big events wearing overalls. Overalls became controversial during the mid ’00s, as the trend of decorating them with sexist and racist commentary emerged. Fortunately, with the University intervention, this is on the decline and a general consensus is that the overall is a unifying symbol of Rhodes spirit.

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