New Telegraph

Dress code war resurfaces on campuses

In apparent displeasure over students’ dressing habits on campuses of the nation’s higher institutions, some university authorities are rising to the challenge to enforce Dress Code in their institutions. KAYODE OLANREWAJU examines the development

˜Non-enforcement of dress code bane of policy –Stakeholders
˜Mngt needs to regulate dress code on campuses –SSANU leader

There has been a fresh move in some universities against indecent and undesirable dressing habits, particularly among both male and female students in higher institutions, after several years of non-enforcement of the policy on campuses. Consequently, in apparent renewed effort to stem the trend and restore sanity into the system, authorities of some nation’s higher institutions in recent times are re-launching ‘Dress Code’ and its enforcement on campuses.

According to education pundits, such move will in one way stem the prevalence rising cases of sexual abuse, assault and harassment, as well as sex-for mark that have become a source of concern to school authorities, management and other stakeholders on Nigerian campuses, Though investigations by New Telegraph revealed that Dress Code is no longer alien to Nigerian campuses as the policy had been introduced across several campuses in the last few decades, and lack of non-implementation and enforcement of the code in some institutions, has remained the bane of the policy.

The policy Faced by this poor dressing habit of students on campus, the management of the Lagos State University (LASU) in a renewed battle against indecent dressing, threeweeksagore-introduced Dress Code for the students, and vowed that defaulters would be sanctioned. In the new code, the university authorities also insisted that it would no longer be business as usual for the students to wear any kind of dresses or to dress the way they like on the campuses of the state university without moderation. Under the code, the university listed 15 unwanted dressing styles for students on campus, and defaulters would be appropriately sanctioned in accordance to the extant rules and regulations of the university..

To enforce the policy, LASU authorities instructed all the lecturers to ensure they don’t allow any student who dresses indecently into the classrooms. In a statement by the acting Head of Centre for Information, Press and Public Relations, Mr. Olaniyi Jeariogbe, the Vice- Chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, said she is no longer comfortable with the continuous disregard by students for the university’s extant rules and regulations on students’ modes of dressing on campus.

He said that the Vice-Chancellor had therefore informed the Provosts of Colleges Deans of Faculties and Heads of Departments, as well as faculty officers at the main and mini campuses to join hands with the lecturers to enforce the dressing rules.

The 15 dressing patterns listed by the management and considered indecent for students to do away with wearing them, particularly on campuses, are wearing transparent dresses, mini and skimpy skirts/dresses, and other clothes revealing sensitive parts of the body, particularly by ladies/female students, wearing tattered/dirty jeans with holes or obscene subliminal messages; wearing of “baggy,” “saggy,” “yansh,” “ass level,” and any other forms of indecent trousers; wearing of tight-fitting apparels, shirts and tops with obscene, obnoxious or seductive inscriptions; wearing shirts without buttons, improperly buttoned, rolling of sleeves or flying collar; wearing of face caps or complete covering of face (very dark glasses); piercing of body and tattooing; wearing of earrings and necklace by male students; and wearing of nose ring, very big dropping earrings and necklaces by students, among others.

The statement added that every student is expected to dress simply and in a decent manner that is generally acceptable by society, and insisted that any student who flouts the rules would not only be allowed into lecture rooms, but would also face other disciplinary actions. Although it was gathered that the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has not issued a fresh dress code for the students, apart from approved existing dress code that guides what students should wear and should not wear on campus. According to a student, it is prohibited for ladies/female students to dress in short skirts, short gowns, ripped jeans, crop tops, camisole, and bum shorts, as well as wearing dyed hair of various colours, and other basic unapproved dress codes. For boys/male students, the dress code banned them from wearing ripped/tattered jeans, dreadlocks, braided hair, earrings, and sagging of trousers on campus.

The students, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told New Telegraph that these outlawed modes of dressing are not allowed in classrooms, lecture rooms, lecture theatres, library and other areas or units of the campus. However, in the case of the University of Ibadan (UI), the Public Relations Officer for the institution, Mrs Joke Akinpelu, said the university authorities had at a point in a bulletin few years ago, reeled out the dress code for students on campus, which kicked against all forms of indecent dressing. Meanwhile, when contacted, the Public Relations Officer for the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Mr Abiodun Olarewaju neither picked his calls nor responded to text messages sent to his mobile phone.

But, a source in the university, who did not want his name in print, said the university had over the years introduced Dress Code for students, specifically since the administration Prof Tale Omole, regretting that the dress code had since been left on the shelf due to non-enforcement. According to the source, only a very few lecturers and the university Public Relation Unit used to enforce dress code in their lecture rooms, and in the public affairs unit whenever any student comes to the unit in indecent dressing manner. The source noted: “The dress code has not been implemented by the university authorities.

There is a need for the Dress Code to be enforced now that the university has almost become a scene of obscenity. “If you see the way some students, especially female students dress on campus, you won’t believe that we are in a university environment. “There must be radical change to differentiate between a university environment and a hotel. If the university is to award its certificates and degrees to students found worthy in learning and character based on its mandate, there must be a serious and deliberate enforcement of the code. “In fact, your attraction should not be a distraction to others on campus, either her or his fellow students or lecturers/workers. “Today, we are faced with problems of sexual harassment, abuse, or sex-formark on campuses for which many lecturers are at the receiving end. The students should also be cautioned on how they dress properly in lecture rooms, libraries and other areas on campus in order not to harass the lecturers sexually. “If you see the kind of dresses most of the students are wearing on campus, you will wonder if we are really/truly in a university environment or a hotel, picnic or beach. It is so disgusting that such a mode of dressing should not be acceptable on campuses.” Also, at the University of Africa, Toru Orua in Bayelsa State, apart from the general Dress Code, the management also introduced specific dress code at departmental level. For instance, Political Science students are mandated under the code to wear an Oxblood Polo Shirt with the inscription Political Science written on it with black jeans. According to a student, Destiny Onyibe, an undergraduate of MicroBiology Department of the university, Microbiology students are compelled to dress corporate in white long sleeves, black trousers and black shoes or canvas to lectures and presentations. He also added that students in the Accounting Department wear sky blue the penalty for flouting the code is to disallow such students from entering the classrooms. Meanwhile, at Niger Delta University in Amassoma, Wilberforce Island of Bayelsa State, a female student, said that the dress code for students of Pharmacy Department is Ash/Grey colour and White dresses, while other Medical students including Nursing, Medicine and Surgery wear navy blue colour dress. While explaining that dress code is not officially enforced in full by the university management, she noted thatthepenaltyforthosethatrefused to comply with the departmental modes of dressing are not allowed into the lecture halls. Like LASU, the management of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Kaduna State, recently insisted on full enforcement of the Dress Code introduced in 2019. While introducing the code, the management said: “This is to inform all staff, students and visitors that the management of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) has warned that the following modes of dressing will no longer be tolerated on the university campuses.” It, therefore, outlawed wearing of short and skimpy dresses such as body hug, show me your chest, spaghetti wears, and dresses exposing sensitive parts of the body, tight shorts and skirts that are above the knees (except for sporting purposes), tattered and jeans with holes. Others include transparent and see-through dresses, tight fittings such as jeans, skirts, hip stars, patra, lactra, among others that reveals the body curves; as well as under-wear clothing like singlet worn publicly. Besides, the students should not appear in unkempt appearance, such as wearing bushy hair and beards especially for male students, as well as wearing dresses that make it impossible to wear laboratory coats during practicals, or to participate actively in practicals. The management of the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), which frowned at indecent dressing by students on campus, was said to have long ago come up with a Dress Code for students. Part of the dress code that expects female students especially to be properly dressed to cover and not expose sensitive parts of their bodies such as breasts, armpit or thighs, are wearing of sleeveless shirts, blouses or gowns as well as dresses above the knee, while ripped trousers, tattered jeans are not allowed for both male and female students, even as students with rough appearances such as wearing torn or ripped dresses are not allowed on campus. According to the university, the major reason for the dress code is to stem indecent dressing, which many have claimed is one of the key factors responsible for sexual abuse, sexual assault or harassment that have allegedly become a worrisome trend on Nigerian campuses. For effective monitoring of students’ appearance on campus, all students in shuttle buses and on motorcycles are mandated to alight at the university gate and walk through the small gate in order for the security operatives assess their appearance and dressing if conformed to the dressing rules and regulations, while any student that breached the code or seen to appear improperly dressed are sent back by the security men. Also, at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, investigations revealed that the institution under the “Indecent Dressing/Posture: Notice to New and Returning Students,” outlined various dress codes and the sanctions available to each, ranging from suspension for one semester or two. Under the Code, the polytechnic management outlawed multicoloured braid for female students, coloured hair styles, hair braiding for male (carries tow semester suspension), dreadlocks, spangled hair style for male, earing for female, unconventional wearing of fez cap or face cap, tattered jeans, micro/miniskirts, crop tops/jump tops, off shoulder clothes, backless clothes, transparent wears, bum shorts, nose/mouth/eye extra rings, sagging and tattoo, among others. In the notice to new and returning students, the management said: “Certificates of the Polytechnic, Ibadan, are awarded to students found worthy in both academic pursuits and good character. “Students are required to abide by the institution’s standard and code of conduct of which indecent dressing/posture is one. “The management, on behalf of the Governing Council, has approved for implementation the under-listed sanctions for the following categories of indecent dressing/posture on campus.”

Stakeholders’ reaction

Some parents and stakeholders, who spoke on the issue expressed bitterness and discomfiture over the trends and the inability of the institutions to actually enforce the rules and regulations guiding the dressing habit of some of the students, who appear indecent on campuses. “It is because of the failure or inability of the management of our various institutions to implement and enforce the Dress Code on their campuses that has continued to encourage the students to dress and appear anyhow on campuses,” they said. A parent, who did not mention her name, wondered that many of the students never wear the kind of dresses they wear in school at home, saying some parents are not to blame for this because many students hide them from their parents. However, reacting to the issue, the Vice President (South-West) for the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Salaam Abdussobor described the introduction of dress code on campuses as a policy every institution should hold sacrosanct with all the seriousness it deserves.

The union leader, who expressed dismay over the improper mode of dressing of students on campuses, said the essence of university is not only to instill academic excellence/activities, but also the moral, discipline and character of the students. He said: “If the universities will continue to award its certificates and degrees to students that are found worthy in character and learning, with emphasis on character coming before learning, there must be a minimum benchmark and standard for dressing and students’ appearance on campus.

“Though university is an unregulated environment, and we may say that students have freedom and can do what they like, still there must be regulations and some modicum of standard for character developmentandvalueregeneration among these young ones.” Salaam, however, regretted that the mode of dressing of Nigerian students, and most especially the youth is unbecoming of a loss value-oriented generation, lamenting that what students (male and female) wear on campuses does not portray the university as a ground to produce students who are worthy in character.

This was as he regretted that the dressing habit among students had been watered down in terms of decency, value and standard, even as the union leader insisted that there must be a difference between those in the university as students, and those on the streets, which today is difficult to demarcate. Salaam added: “The music the youths of today listen to has further encumbrance or destroyed their value system. They are so low in appearance and this has belittled them and also promoted cultism and other social ills among them. “How can female students wear dresses that expose almost all their body on campus because of freedom? Many students (boys and girls) have tattoos on their body, and wear nose rings.

No, it is disgusting, and displeasing of a university environment. “In our universities today, you see students wearing funny T-Shirts, tattered jeans and bathroom slippers under their academic gown for their matriculation ceremony. In the good old days, students would dress well for such a ceremony by putting on suits, neat shirts, and well-ironed trousers with ties, but today you see students in tattered/sagged jeans, so unkempt for a university environment.” Speaking with New Telegraph, a legal practitioner, Niyi Oluwole, did not hide his worries over the level of moral decadence and value degeneration among Nigerian students, especially in terms of mode of dressing, which to him, required the government to declare a state of emergency. He said: “We can understand very well that the society is evolving or not static, but what is happening on our campuses presently is grossly unbecoming. The National Universities Commission (NUC) and Federal Ministry of Education should declare a state of emergency on students dressing on campuses. “We hear of sexual harassment here and there for which many lecturers have been sent out of the system for their culpability, so indecent and provocative dressing by both male and female students should be disallowed. University management should introduce dress code and come tough in enforcing the policy for sanity to prevail on out campuses. “There should be dress law on campuses and should be regulated, as doing so will restore sanity into the system.”

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