Cougar Closet dresses students for success

Students utilized closet for Career Expo formal wear; closet receives several donations per semester



A variety of business and professional clothing items are available to all students via the Cougar Closet, located in Lighty Student Services, Feb. 11.

JOSIAH PIKE, Evergreen news co-editor

The Cougar Closet in the Lighty Student Services Building provides free clothing for students on campus in need of professional attire for formal events.

Jessica Tate, Academic Success and Career Center program assistant, was put in charge of the Cougar Closet shortly after starting work in July 2021.

Her main duties at the Cougar Closet include going through the donated clothes and making sure they are appropriate for professional use, she said. The Cougar Closet requires clothing to be in good condition with no rips or tears.

The main sources of donations are students and members of the community, she said. Some businesses have also held clothing drives to send in items.

The closet just received five boxes of donated clothes from Zulily, Tate said.

“We’re really excited about getting those on the racks,” she said.

On average, they receive about two donations per week, with some of the donations from students being only a few items at a time, she said.

Amanda Morgan, ASCC associate director of career development, has worked for ASCC since March 2020, she said. Morgan oversees the career team at ASCC and mainly focuses on academic success and career services, she said. 

Morgan said there were not many donations taken during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Cougar Closet has accepted more donations from employers after that period.

“But now that we’re back, we are really ramping up those requests from employers, and with that, I think we’ve had a couple of donations per semester,” she said.

The most common donations the Cougar Closet receives are women’s clothing, although they receive more than just that, Tate said.

“Sometimes, we get like a big group of men’s clothes,” Tate said. “With women, we seem to get clothing every couple weeks for them.”

Despite there being more men’s clothing than women’s clothing at the Cougar Closet, and less men’s clothing being donated, Tate said more men usually come in than women. They have not had a problem with supply so far.

Tate said some of the most common reasons people get clothes from the closet include job interviews and other types of formal events at WSU. The number of students often rises depending on campus or community events.

“I’ve heard job interviews. I’ve also heard ‘I have a formal event in my sorority or fraternity,’” Tate said. “Or a business event. We can help them out with just getting that formal attire.”

Over 750 students attended the in-person Career Expo, so many came to use the closet as a resource, Tate said.

“Just in the week leading up to the expo, we had multiple students every single day,” Morgan said. “At one point – I can’t remember if it was Thursday or Friday – we had a line.”

Morgan said she tries to spread the word about the Cougar Closet when working with other organizations across campus.

“We had a lot of students coming last week to utilize the Cougar Closet in preparation for the Career Expo, so this is a perfect time to start ramping up our donation requests again,” she said.

Tate said she hopes that in the future, the closet may get more exposure, and more people will visit to take advantage of it. They are considering putting up posters in the Compton Union Building, or putting up a sign somewhere on campus, although there are no official plans to do so at the moment, she said.

“If you are interested and you want to check it out, we’re here. We will show you,” Tate said. “If you want to take a look, then we want you to come. We’ll try to help you out as much as we can.”

Those wanting to access the Cougar Closet can go to the front desk in Room 180 in Lighty Student Services, she said.