I hate dress codes. In almost every instance, it’s merely a tool designed to control people because someone in charge doesn’t trust people to have any common sense. I do not believe that people will dress perfectly without a dress code, but shouldn’t an employer want to know who doesn’t understand what’s appropriate and when? The dress code serves to mask an underlying problem until it can come out in a more damaging way.
So I read this story with that in mind:
Trips to the dry cleaner and mini shopping sprees at stores like Brooks Brothers are just some of the tasks awaiting undergraduate marketing students at Illinois State University’s College of Business this school year. Starting Aug. 27, all students taking classes in the marketing department are required to adhere to a strict business casual code, one that requires them to come to class in items such as pressed polo shirts, pants with finished seams, and dress heels. Students tested out the policy during a grace period last week.
[Marketing professor Linda] Showers and other faculty drew up the “Business Casual Professional Dress Code” requirements last winter, sending out a memo to students this summer with details on the code, along with the school’s rationale for the move. Included in the memo were detailed guidelines that cautioned students against wearing dresses or skirts “shorter than four inches above the knee,” and prohibited them from wearing cargo pants, jeans, and sweatpants, among other items. “Clothing that works well for the beach, yard work, dance clubs, exercise sessions, and sports contests are not appropriate for a professional appearance,” the memo reads. Hats are also not permitted, though allowances are made for students who need to wear head covering for religious or cultural reasons.
If students don’t adhere to the dress code, they get a zero for the day and are asked to leave the classroom. The faculty member that implements the punishment is required to talk with the student about why the outfit is inappropriate for the classroom.
College “kids” are almost never kids. Clearly Illinois State is content with the nanny-state mentality that someone in administration must give orders for fear of chaos breaking out. Without this, clearly these “kids” would show up to class sans clothing. This policy doesn’t even show respect for the faculty members, since they must act as glorified babysitters.
If I attended a school that did this, I’d deal with it in two specific ways. First, I would take no marketing classes this fall. Second, I’d transfer at the end of the semester.
The first part is not true, actually. I’d take a marketing class or four. I’d show up in casual dress every single class. The professor would ask me to leave. I’d make a scene. I’d leave. And I’d drop all marketing classes on the last day to drop without penalty.
College is a time to learn, preferably to think. If students can’t figure out for themselves that there are different expectations for different situations without being forced to conform, the college is not doing its job, either in the admissions office or the classroom.