Recently, Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA enacted its new appropriate attire policy. In this new policy, eleven expectations have been set to show how Morehouse men are expected to dress. Examples of this new dress policy include no do-rags, no women’s clothing, and no sagging in the classroom or at campus events. Most would wonder why being an all male school, Morehouse would even have to outline a rule banning women’s clothing. While many believe that Morehouse’s dress code policy change was targeted at reviving the image of masculinity on campus, the policy change brings up an interesting debate. While there are many people who agree with this policy, there are just as many who disagree. These new rules have stirred a debate regarding dress codes on college campuses. However, there are a couple of questions that could be addressed. The first question is what constitutes appropriate dress on a college campus? Secondly, should students be told what to wear? Lastly, do the clothes that African American males wear really define who they are?
So what exactly is the appropriate dress for a college campus? Many college campuses have no set standards that say what is and what is not appropriate on campus. Walking on many college campuses it is possible to see students wearing sweat pants, pajamas, do-rags, etc. North Carolina State University has no defined code of dress. Many schools really could care less what students are wearing as long as they pay tuition, come to class, learn, and graduate. After all students come to college to become educated. There are many articles of clothing which have no place in the classroom, but shouldn’t students know that article of clothing is right or wrong? College is a place where most students start to become more responsible. So shouldn’t they be responsible to regulate their dress? By now, students should know what to wear when they go to a job interview. There is a time and a place to wear specific attire. Is college really the time to be giving lessons on dress etiquette? College however is supposed to prepare students of what they can expect in the “real world.” When it comes to the “real world”, people don’t exactly get the opportunity to choose what they want to wear to work. So one might say that if we are preparing students for the real world, maybe there should be some sort of dress policy in place.
This brings us to the question, regarding whether students should be told what to wear. Many students may believe that their clothes are one of the elements which make them who they are. College is supposed to be the best years of a person’s life. College is the stoplight between childhood and the real world. It’s a time when students can explore new ideas, learn themselves, and decide what they want to do in life. With all the stresses of studying, finances, career decisions, should clothing be added to the list? What changes will regulating student dress really bring? While, statistics have shown that uniforms in high school seem to change the atmosphere, one must realize that college and high school are on two different levels. If a dress code was to show up at some place like NC State, who would police this policy? Would it even be possible for someone to police the attire of more than 34,000 people on a daily basis?
It seems that when it comes to concerns with clothing in today’s society, African American males stand at the forefront. Some people feel as if the style in which African American men have taken on is disrespectful and juvenile. They feel as if the clothes that African American males choose to wear further hinder themselves from success. One must ask, will putting on a suit and tie suddenly erase the achievement gap? What about trying to have resources to educate black males to make the right decisions in life. What about making sure that more jobs are readily available. What about inspiring more African American men to become teachers. There are much bigger problems that need to be addressed before we start worrying about an image. Putting a suit on a thug is not guaranteed to change his mentality.