Indecent dressing among undergraduates

Cases of indecent exposure of bodies (commonly called indecent dressing) among tertiary institutions’ students have recently occupied the front burner of our social discourses. Some jurisdictions in the world even have legislation against what they describe as intentional exposure of one’s private parts in public. In the case of our undergraduates, the act seems to include what is generally called “suggestive/provocative dressing.” This broadly covers outlining the cleavage of a woman’s upper body. The list of what may constitute indecency in clothing includes wearing torn jeans and other pants, exposure of parts of breasts, wearing transparent/revealing clothes etc. The recent decision by the management of Delta State Polytechnic, Ogwashi-Uku to pronounce a “no bra, no entry, no pant, no entry” policy for its female students has attracted public attention.

Why would a higher institution be run like a seminary, some people would ask? A few others believe that our tertiary institutions should concentrate on knowledge delivery rather than engage in sanctimonious moralizing or sermonizing. Drug abuse, cybercrime, robbery, rape, violent attacks and cultism are becoming the new normal on our campuses. No one is taken aback when these crimes are reported. For example, the University of Lagos while screening those newly admitted does drug abuse checks before they are registered as bona fide students. It shows that drug abuse is a pre-admission problem that is brought into the university system. Most parents pretentiously gloss over this and the same can be argued for other anti-social problems that bedevil our youth.

In our highbrow shopping malls, we see parents with almost naked children. They are also brought to parties so dressed. Children are introduced to alcohol, smoking– (including cannabis and hashish), dating etc at a very early age. But why should an institution of learning be concerned about all these abhorrent behaviours and dress styles?

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Colleges of education, polytechnics and universities are not merely institutions for learning and knowledge delivery. They are set up to award certificates and degrees in character and learning! “Honours” that is inserted in parenthesis in all degree certificates issued by universities shows that they are also institutions for character training and learning.. Exceptions are for those found wanting in character. The faculty of any tertiary institution of learning stands in loco parentis – i.e., in place of a parent. Every matriculated student is a signature to this pact. Since the institutions function as parents, it behoves them to be guardians of all the students under their charge The Trumpet gathered.

Dress code is a standard practice in every culture and profession. Priests, lawyers, soldiers etc have dress codes. To require this of students cannot be regarded as high-handedness on the part of management. There are cases where churches have insisted that brides be properly dressed before they are joined in holy matrimony. The point must be underscored that the greatest culprits are our female students. They always have running battles with the authorities on this. Short of anything is what seems to be the inordinate desire of some female students to walk all over our campuses nearly naked. Many will call this the new normal. Male folks, in our campuses, at weddings, parties, musical videos, etc often dress well. Could these female folks be suffering from aesthetic alienation? Is it to seek attention? Is it an open invitation that they are sex objects?

There is the common adage that one is addressed the way one dresses! A good and decorous dress sense indicates one’s attitude of respect for both the institution and its officials. Good dressing commands self-respect. It is dignifying to be properly apparelled. People have very low regard for the indecently dressed one. Provocative dressing is the easiest way to seek social attention. We must promote good African values in all that we do as a people.

Without being unduly sensational and high-handed, the management of our tertiary institutions should seek better ways of policy implementation. Erring students may be formally warned, made to appear before schools’ counsellors and queried. The biological parents of our youth must not abandon their parental duties to institutions of learning. Students should have the sense of dressing appropriately for the classroom and for social outing. Indecent dressing in any situation is unwelcome.

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