The dress code policy has been one of the most prominent policies of the University. However, it has earned the ire of several students, particularly because of its seemingly inconsistent implementation by security and discipline officers on campus.
The dress code policy has been hotly debated during sessions regarding student handbook revisions in the past few years. The current version of the handbook reiterates that “campus attire should be decent and modest,” and encourages students to “practice the values of respect for one’s self, decency, and appropriateness through their campus attire.”
Section 18.104.22.168 of the student handbook states that the second and succeeding violations of the Implementing Guidelines on the Dress Code is a minor offense. Additionally, these guidelines are subject for review after one academic year of its implementation.
Conflicts with “No Compliance, No Entry”
Student Discipline and Formation Office (SDFO) Director Christy Santiago emphasizes that, as a general rule, any student of the University violating the dress code will be barred from entering the campus.
“Generally, that’s the rule,” explains Santiago, “but students have their rights as stakeholders in the University. Barring them on the campus gates prevent them from attending their classes, which they paid for, and they have the right to attend those classes.” Instead of being prevented from entering, the students are asked to fix their clothes to make it look more appropriate according to University standards.
Santiago admits that students also get creative with the outfits that they wear to school, which makes inspection harder. “Sometimes, you’d see some female students tie a jacket over their short dresses and skirts to make them appear longer. Or some students would say that the reason why the shorts look shorter is because it hikes up whenever the wearer walks or sits down,” she shares.
Not a priority
Another point Santiago emphasizes is that the Security Office prioritizes safety in the University above anything else and warning the students about the dress code is not a top priority.
“The Security Office has a lot of responsibilities and sometimes when students [violating the dress code] enter the campus, the guards in charge wouldn’t take notice anymore,” Santiago states. She also adds that despite the SDFO orienting the security people about the different rules in the Student Handbook, the agency providing the University with security personnel deploy different personnel. Some of those who have been oriented may not be working in the University during the latter part of the academic year and the new personnel who come in are not as aware of the dress code policy. “The SDFO does not know when new guards are being deployed in campus; we are not being updated by the Security Office,” Santiago explains.
Implemented for a reason
Being a Catholic institution, the University has to create policies for students because the students carry the name and image of the University. “These policies are not created for the sake of creating them. Of course, there are reasons why these rules are being implemented,” Santiago stresses.
Implementing a dress code is a part of formation of the students, a gauge of how well students can follow rules and regulations and how students carry themselves. “When you’ve already finished school, you don’t have the same liberty you had when you were a student. When you go to work, you have to wear the prescribed attire; you have to be professional,” Santiago describes. “That’s what we’re trying to do with the dress code policy. We want the students to learn how to follow rules.”