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Symbols of Belonging

Some elements of Convocation resemble the commencement ceremony that you’ll be part of when you graduate. This is very purposeful.

When you graduate and officially become a WSU alumnus—a lifelong Coug—the same flags and symbols you saw at Convocation will surround you when you walk onstage to receive your diploma.

The first-year pin

At University Convocation, you’ll receive a special pin commemorating your first year here at WSU. Since its debut in 2006 at the first University Convocation, the pinning ceremony has become a Cougar tradition.

Keep this pin and wear it with pride when you graduate!


A gonfalon is a long, narrow flag that hangs from a crossbar. You’ll see several of these flags lining the stage at both convocation and commencement.

In the medieval era, gonfalons were used as royal banners and battle flags. As flags have always been, they were symbols of group identity and literal rallying points in times of crisis.

When universities began to organize themselves in the 17th century, they adopted these long-established traditional flags to represent academic authority and identity.

Today, each academic college at WSU has its own gonfalon in a color that represents its main academic discipline. These colors were selected and standardized by a coalition of American universities and are used the same way throughout the United States.