Dress code woes
Students take advantage of weak regulations
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 14:11
As students transition from high school to college, the line between professionalism and inappropriateness often becomes blurred.
In primary and secondary schools, dress codes range from light regulations like no hats to strict regulations like mandatory uniforms.
Though public colleges sometimes have dress codes, students are treated like adults and expected to know how to dress.
Some, however, take advantage of this freedom.
Without constant supervision from parents and staff, the hems rise and the waistlines lower.
N.C. Central University was no exception.
So Charlie Nelms, former NCCU chancellor, began a movement to discourage what he called “suggestive, revealing clothing, by men or women,” along with sloppy clothes and nightwear.
But the impact did not last.
Darlene Eberhardt-Burke, interim chair of human sciences at NCCU, is one proponent of college dress codes. She said she has seen a lot of men sagging, women with exposed breasts and other questionable attire on campus.
“I was in the cafeteria one day and I saw a boy with a naked woman on his T-shirt,” said Eberhardt-Burke.
She said students may be emulating media and other cultural influences.
“On predominantly white campuses, it’s more casual,” said Eberhardt. “You won’t see a lot of micro-minis or 6- inch stilettos.”
She said that inappropriate clothing not only gives an unprofessional impression but also presents a safety issue.
“You can’t tell the difference between a student and a street thug or street walker,” said Eberhardt-Burke. “That’s the reason for a lot of crime.”
Though the campus does not have a dress code, some departments do.
The department of sociology forbids tight shorts, hats, sagging pants and low-cut tops.
Annette Bailey, adjunct instructor, supports the department’s regulation.
“This is supposed to be a place that is preparing people to make a place for themselves in the world,” said Bailey. “College is a practice ground.”
Bailey is concerned that when students pursue jobs, they won’t be able to transition their method of dress.
She said that some young people may not realize they’re being judged and will consequently be turned away.
“What is that need to be so revealing? What is the message and who are you trying to send it to?” asked Bailey.
One particular trend that Bailey wants to see disappear is sagging trousers.
She said that though she doesn’t see it much now, it’s still a problem.
Bailey pointed out that the controversial trend began in a less-than-fashionable institution.
In prisons, the combination of ill-fitting uniforms and lack of belts led to convicts wearing their pants below the crotch.
“You’re in college, so why would you emulate a group of people who’ve been deprived of their freedom?” asked Bailey.
While she’s aware that times have changed since she was in college, she wants young people to distinguish between media and reality.
“I don’t want us to make that jump from dressing casually to dressing like we’re all on TV in an MTV music video,” said Bailey.
“I want my students to be clean and not looking like they’re going to a nightclub.”
Psychology sophomore Jasmine Green does not support dress regulations but agrees that club attire is unacceptable.
“There shouldn’t be a dress code but you should know what’s appropriate,” said Green.
She said that some students take it to the extreme with see-through tops with their bras out and crude graphic T-shirts.
When she sees people dressed like that, she feels that they have no self-respect or moral standards.
Terry Huff, coordinator of Dimensions of Learning at NCCU, said that the way a student dresses does not define who they are, but may give them a negative reputation.
“Our students are very intelligent and in tune,” said Huff.
“It’s just that some of their choices may send a misconception.”
Huff doesn’t want his students to feel pressured but he said they should know there is a time and place for everything.
“I’m not saying students should wear neckties, but there are ways to dress appropriately,” he said.