Appendix Z, Section 4.2 of the 2015-2018 DLSU Student Handbook lists down implementing guidelines for the dress code policy and mandates the Security Office to enforce the policy as students enter the campus. Despite its strict “No Compliance, No Entry” guideline, several students manage to bypass the system and there are reportedly several inconsistencies in terms of implementing the policy. What most students do not know, however, is that the faculty also has a dress code policy of their own.
Faculty dress code policy
Under the proposed Attire and Grooming Policy for the 2015-2018 Faculty Manual, it states the faculty members “must recognize and respect that the dress choices they make affect not just their own comfort but also that of colleagues, the workplace environment, and the image that the University is trying to convey to clients, potential clients, and workplace visitors.”
The policy adds, “The dress code is enforced in a way that respects the personal circumstances of each faculty member including his or her race, religion, physical and mental condition, nationality, and family status. Faculty may request the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academics for exemptions and accommodations to this dress code on these and other grounds.”
Psychology Professor Dr. Laurene Chua-Garcia, who is also the proponent of the dress code policy for faculty, explains that the “exposure of too much flesh” is one of the reasons why the faculty enforces a dress code of their own. “Even us faculty members, we impose a dress code on our faculty because we’re here to teach, not show our bodies or reveal our body parts to students,” she elaborates.
Dr. Chua-Garcia stresses that the problem with the implementation of the policy does not only involve students, but also faculty members. She clarifies that the implementation of the policy with appropriate sanctions would remind faculty to dress appropriately. “There should be some amount of distance, some amount of respect accorded to you,” she implies. “How do you expect to be respected if you dress up improperly?”
With the faculty dress code policy, Dr. Chua-Garcia believes that it aims to project the wholesomeness and professionalism which the University wants to present to the world at large.
Students’ dress code policy
On the other hand, one of the current and most contested issues in the students’ dress code policy is whether off-shoulder tops are allowed or not. Student Discipline and Formation Office (SDFO) Coordinator for Programs Elaine Concepcion clarifies that off-shoulder tops are not included in the current version of the handbook because it was not yet part of the fashion trends when the most recent version was being conceptualized.
She discloses that the University Student Government (USG) has a big role in the handbook revisions, specifically on discussing changes in policies and decision-making processes. “The policies are made not because the University wants them, but because they are appropriate for students since they also came from students,” Concepcion adds.
USG Chief Legislator Janina Angelo (IV, BS-IT) supposes that it is vital to re-establish the dress code policy, but it must first be reviewed and improved. She agrees that there is a confusion among students on whether or not off-shoulder tops are allowed on campus. “In our focus group discussion, we received a lot of questions about it. Thus, what we need to do is to try to improve the restrictions which is not too strict,” she shares.
One of the other concerns with the students’ dress code policy is the inconsistency of the security personnel at the DLSU gates. “They (students) were allowed to enter in North Gate, then suddenly in [the] Gokongwei Gate, they can’t enter because the guard in that gate thinks that what they were wearing was too short,” Angelo cites.
Concepcion clarifies that the reason why female students wearing off-shoulders are not being called out is because it is not part of the list of unaccepted outfits they were given. She explains, “The security officers are guided by this policy and specific guidelines. Why would they catch and call out students if what they are wearing is not part of the guidelines?”
Rationale for the policy
Concepcion asserts that among the virtues they want to develop among the students through the dress code policy include decency and sensitivity. “We are really emphasizing here the high standard of decency—wearing your dress properly,” she adds. “We also have to be very sensitive of the [discipline formation] needs of other members of the society, of this community.”
Angelo speaks up on her stand regarding the dress code policy, and stresses that her personal response does not represent the students and the USG Legislative Assembly. “It is good to have a minimum requirement which would not be too restrictive, but still respectful to the other members of the community,” she says. “[The dress code policy] should not only apply for girls because I observed that they [the guards] are not that strict with boys wearing short shorts.”
Meanwhile, Concepcion clarifies the misconceived image of the SDFO, and explains that their office is not the one responsible for the formation of policies, only in executing them. “The SDFO has nothing to do with the revisions and policies. The handbook is only passed to us. We just enforce, we don’t even author it because there’s a committee for that. We wish that the USG will help us to campaign [for] the student handbook,” she highlights.
While it is important for students to comply with the dress code policy and voice out their personal opinions on it, the existence of the faculty dress code implies that everyone in the University have strict guidelines to follow in terms of appropriate clothing. As more issues arise with the dress code policies, more changes may be implemented in the future.