On Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 10 a.m. students gathered around the Bear’s Den for the official opening of UC Riverside’s R’Closet. In a collaboration between the Career Center and the Associated Students of UC Riverside (ASUCR), R’Closet is a resource that gives students access to professional clothing that they may not be able to afford on their own. From now on, all UCR students will be able to take up to three professional wear items of their choice from the R’Closet per quarter for free.
The idea of R’Closet was developed to meet the increasing need for professional clothing among low income students as well as to educate them on what professional wear looks like. “Sometimes employers will come in and comment that our student was not as professionally dressed as a student at another campus,” said Linda LaTendresse, Associate Director of Employer Relations and Recruiting, “We have a lot of students who have financial need and it is expensive to purchase professional wear. Nothing would break our hearts more than a great employer being here and a student feeling like they did not have anything to wear and this is one little way we can help.”
ASUCR and the Career Center collaborated for two years to make R’Closet a reality. They researched how feasible the project would be, looked at over 30 other campuses’ career closets and debated between a rental or gifting program. In the end, R’Closet became a gifting program because ASUCR and the Career Center wanted to ensure that students would have clothing that “they can feel empowered in,” according to ASUCR President Semi Cole. Along with their efforts, donations have come in from the faculty and staff of UCR, as well as employers like Kohl’s and J.C. Penny.
In April of this year, R’Closet held a soft opening, where in a period of nine weeks they gifted 173 items and saw over 443 students throughout one quarter. If students continue to engage with this resource, the Career Center will be able to look into expanding R’Closet. “Our hope is to be able to purchase full suits – maybe doing sets of 20 suits of all sizes and colors – and so if students have to set up interviews they can come in and borrow a full-on suit that is brand new,” said Marlenee L. Blas Pedral, a Career Counselor for Employer Relations & Student Employment.
From now on, R’Closet will be providing the attire for interviews as well as new jobs on campus. Part of the budget for this project was put toward funding student positions within R’Closet. As ASUCR President Semi Cole stated, “We want to be able to have students helping students to drive us all forward.”