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Braden Auditorium ushers shine in new uniforms

Braden Auditorium ushers in their new uniforms

Braden Auditorium ushers, from left, Tim Fudala, Jasmin Graham, Kaila Westra, and Darnell Payne.

Patrons attending events at Braden Auditorium in the Bone Student Center this spring may notice something different about the ushers.

After more than 20 years, the standard “blue blazer” uniforms were replaced with a brand new look. The new uniforms—black vests and red bowties paired with white dress shirts and black pants—were unveiled in March after extensive research and discussion on the future direction of the uniform.

“Years of service had led to the structure of our blue blazers breaking down,” said Barb Dallinger ’81, M.S.E. ’01, the Bone Student Center’s associate director for event logistics and life safety. “After completing some costs analysis, it became clear that repairing the old blazers was simply too expensive for a short-term fix. However, replacing our entire inventory with blazers would also be costly. That led to researching other options available to us.”

A team of full-time staff members initially reviewed many options with specific factors in mind, such as durability, ease of assembly, and gender neutrality. Student feedback was critical in the decision-making process. Student managers were consulted and given the opportunity to select the final two options. Ushers and section supervisors were then allowed to vote, resulting in the current attire.

Former usher Allyssa Brown, who will graduate this spring, said the old uniforms were uncomfortable.

“Even though I had to wear a jacket that didn’t fit well, I still greatly enjoyed my time as an usher, especially interacting with such a wide variety of guests that attended Braden events,” Brown said.

The current team of 66 ushers sees the new uniforms as a positive, much needed update.

“The sleeveless vests are easier to wear because they feel more lightweight than the bulky, heavier jackets,” said Dani Engelke, guest services manager and sophomore finance major at Illinois State. “Black pants are also a better option than khakis because they’re easier to find and give the look more consistency compared to the khakis that always varied a great deal in color.”

The ushers will have several opportunities to wear the new uniforms in the near future, including two upcoming concerts. Illinois State University will present An Evening with Gordon Lightfoot on June 24. REO Speedwagon will perform at Braden Auditorium on June 27 to benefit Central Illinois communities affected by the tornadoes last fall. For ticket information, please call (309) 438-5444.

Erin Watts can be reached at