Westminster student perceived as drug user for wearing tie-dye

Jake Bergquist, a senior biology major, strums his ukulele in front of the Bassis Student Center. Bergquist said he likes to simultaneously play the ukulele and ride his longboard around Westminster’s campus. Photo by Hasib Hussainzada.

Jake Bergquist, a senior biology major, strums his ukulele in front of the Bassis Student Center. Bergquist said he likes to simultaneously play the ukulele and ride his longboard around Westminster’s campus. Photo by Hasib Hussainzada.

With the start of every new day, so begins the hunt for the perfect outfit—except for one person, Jake Bergquist.

Bergquist, a senior biology major, wears tie-dye seven days a week, 365 days a year. Known on Westminster College’s campus as “tie-dye Jake,” Bergquist said he has been wearing tie-dye for 13 years.

“I don’t really have any other shirts, except for my, like, one nice button-down shirt,” Bergquist said, his orange beard blending with today's tie-dye shirt.

Bergquist said his tie-dye collection grows every year, and his friends say they love it.

“Jake is an odd guy,” said Riley Hodgson, a senior neuroscience major. “But he is incredibly intelligent, creative and a super reliable guy. If I’m in dire need of help, he’s the person I call.”

Bergquist said he doesn’t pay much attention to what people think of his tie-dye. But he said the judgments people make about him because of his fashion are troubling.

“People always ask me if I do drugs,” Bergquist said. “They ask me if I smoke pot­—all the time.”

Hodgson said Bergquist avoids substances and doesn’t have the drug user vibe.

“[However], I think that the tie-dye combined with his easygoing nature and allergies make him look like a heavy drug user,” Hodgson said.

Bergquist sat down with The Forum to talk about his passions and his colorful closet.

Q: How much tie-dye do you own?

A: I’d say, just shirts—including what I left at home, because I didn’t bring all of it with me—it’s probably around 40 or 60 shirts. As for other things… I have a couple bow ties, sweatshirts and everything else. I don’t know, probably 50 or so [are tie-dyed].

I get new [tie-dyed] stuff all the time. Like I got a tapestry last summer, and I made some new shirts. I think my next project is going to be to make––I have a tie-dyed vest right now––and I want to make a better one because this one bleeds the color.

Q: Did you know you’re famous for wearing tie-dyed shirts on Westminster’s campus?

A: People always [ask], ‘Why?’ whenever they see me wear tie–dye. I don’t really know why. It’s something that back before in junior high, or whenever it was, like, 13 years ago, I just decided [to wear tie–dye clothing].

Q: Would you say you are obsessed with tie-dye apparel or is it the lifestyle associated with it?

A: My mom is a hippie and she gave me a few tie–dyed shirts. There is probably some picture of me in a tie-dyed onesie as an infant somewhere. I just decided that I wanted to wear those. I don’t know why it happened. At this point, it’s just what I do.

Q: What do you like to do outside of class while wearing tie-dye?

A: I like to make things. So, like, all of my hobbies pretty much––I play games and stuff and hang out with friends––but most of my hobbies revolve around making things. I like to do woodwork, leatherwork and blacksmithing. Recently, I took a ceramics class this semester because I like making pottery and stuff. So, most of my hobbies are about making stuff.

I do martial arts, too, just trying to stay in shape. I enjoy that.

Q: Explain your relationship with longboarding and simultaneously playing your ukulele.

Longboarding is really nice for me because, you know, I like snowboarding. I like the feeling of it. And then, whenever I have my ukulele as I go, it almost makes it easier for me to longboard. It makes more of a flow, you know. I can play my ukulele to the rhythm of the wheels hitting the cracks on the pavement. It feels like gliding around campus.

Q: What makes you happiest, aside from adding to your tie-dye collection?


It is a collection of moments. Whenever I get to see my sibling do things. [When] one of my brothers first learned how to swim, he was like, ‘Jake. Jake, you gotta come watch this.’ He was so excited to show me this thing that we all take for granted, right? The ability to swim, which a lot of us can do and a lot of us take it for granted. It was just the most exciting thing in this world. I think that the happiest moments for me [are] getting re-centered by seeing especially young people be so excited about what we think are trivial things. It helps you appreciate the little things in life.

That is the most clichéd thing I have said in a while.

Q: Share something unusual about yourself.


I just don’t like wearing shoes if I can help it. I don’t know, I feel more comfortable without shoes on. It’s kind of hard because I work in a lab, you know, so I don’t get to [not wear shoes]. So whenever I can, [I refuse to wear shoes]. I’m not wearing shoes right now.