Monday, October 19, 2009

Morehouse Bans 'Women's Garb' in Public


Inside Higher Ed reports that Morehose has gotten serious about its status as an "elite" historically black college. (Full disclosure: Campus Progress once held a regional conference on Morehouse's campus.) They have adopted a dress code that encourages its students to be "well read, well spoken, well traveled, well dressed and well balanced." As a single-sex instiution that has an all-female counterpart, Spellman, Morehouse created a policy so their men will be "well dressed":

  • Caps, do-rags and hoods are banned in classrooms, the cafeteria and other indoor venues. Do-rags may not be worn outside of the residence halls.
  • Sunglasses may not be worn in class or at formal programs.
  • Jeans may not be worn at major programs such as convocation, commencement or Founder's Day.
  • Clothing with "derogatory, offensive and/or lewd messages either in words or pictures" may not be worn.
  • "Sagging," defined as "the wearing of one’s pants or shorts low enough to reveal undergarments or secondary layers of clothing," is banned.
  • Pajamas are banned in public areas.
  • Wearing of "clothing associated with women’s garb (for example, dresses, tunics, purses, handbags, pumps, wigs, make-up, etc.)" is banned.

Understandably, LGBT students are protesting the policy. The administration claims this policy isn't about its LGBT students and is instead focused on "all students," saying that Morehouse is supportive of its LGBT students. But Morehouse's site doesn't list LGBT as groups that students can get involved with on campus, instead favoring "Greek life" and "athletics."

The policy sets a standard of what "well dressed" means without taking into account students that may not identfy with this particular type of dress. Even students that don't identify as falling outside of gender norms may have problems with the school's effort to restrict other clothing items that are popular at other HBCUs.

(The photo above was one I took at a bar in Grand Forks, N.D. that banned certain types of clothing, supposedly to prevent "gang members" from entering the establishment.)

Cross posted.

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