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35 years ago, in 1988, our university was called the Rīga Medical Institute (RMI). The new academic year started on 1 September, and for the first time, a matriculation ceremony was held in the forecourt at the main entrance of the building at 16 Dzirciema iela. Only a year earlier, in October 1987, the grand opening of the new RMI building complex had taken place. Before that, the university had no building of its own, and the RMI administration, faculties, and study facilities were scattered all over Riga.

Photos show that on that day the university administration had put student caps on their heads. The base colour of these caps was in the same dark red hue as the Latvian flag. In 1957, when these caps were introduced after an initiative by the RMI students, the explanation for the colours was quite different, however: red represented life, black – death, and white – hope. There is no reliable evidence, so we can only guess what the feelings of the time were, but it is possible that in the late 1980s, when Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union, the caps symbolised not only the spirit of the students, but was also a secret sign of support for the National Awakening movement that was taking place at the time. This movement eventually contributed to the restoration of Latvia's independence.

There was no tradition of wearing academic robes in the Soviet era. In the photos from the matriculation ceremony in 1988, we can see that university management is also wearing sashes in the same colours in addition to the caps. This is the first time that RMI management wore different elements as part of their attire during an academic celebration. The rector and other members of the management wore an academic gown for the first time two years later, in 1990. The first rector's gown is on display in the Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) History Museum’s permanent exhibition, which is located next to the Great Hall (this is a copy, as the original is carefully preserved in the museum). The question ‘Why does the rector wear an academic gown’ can be answered by exploring the exhibition in the display cases next to the Great Hall from 26 August to 29 December 2023.


K korpusā, 1. stāvā, gaitenī pie aulas
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