May 22, 2024 (7:26 PM)

4 min read


I have collected a fair share of dress code violations since the campus had a full blast onsite learning modality. One violation I had was due to my eyelet-patterned cardigan, which was not allowed because of its holes, and the second was because of my squared-neck puff sleeve blouse, which was tagged as having a plunging neckline. 

I would just brush it off if it happened to me once, especially since the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) dismissed my case. But it happened several times that I felt disempowered for justifying my clothes to the school guard and having to explain my clothing in an email with my picture attached. I would feel so conscious of the stares around me, scrutinizing my choice of clothes and whether they could pass or be warranted by the infamous green slip. 

I even know someone flagged by the guard because of their ‘ripped’ jeans where the tattered cloth was as big as a thumb. I witnessed my fellow female students get blocked by the school guard because they showed their back skin too much, but I saw some who had the same issue but did not warrant a slip because it could be covered with their long hair. I also know someone who wore civilian clothes on a Thursday but was not given a violation nor questioned by the guard.

Through time, dress codes have been customary and a standard in universities to create a professional environment, accommodate students from different socioeconomic statuses, and instill campus order. For the University, there is a strict adherence to the rule as it is the first line of surveillance if you want to enter the campus. If I were not living in today’s climate and patriarchal bubble, I would find the whole regulation justifiable. However, as I am in a University that taught me to be dynamic, I question why we have to be rigid with our policies.

Since 2016, Ateneans have expressed disparities and inconsistencies in the school’s strict dress code. For once, its implementation is disproportionately focused on girls. At the end of every semester, the amount of female students falling in line to get their SIS unblocked is an obvious manifestation of how the policy is fixated on females. 

Further, these dress codes were created during the time when a 42-degree temperature was only a high-grade fever. With the rising heat index in the city, uniforms, and restrictive dress requirements become a burden and an inconvenience.

Nevertheless, OSA has made efforts to accommodate the needs of the students in this weather. For once, OSA lifted the wearing of uniforms from April 16 to 20 in response to the rising heat index in Davao City. Exemptions in wearing uniforms were also made last January when the region experienced heavy downpours.

But in reality, such initiatives do not respond to the actual clamors of the student body. It is counterintuitive to lift uniform policies as a response to the rising heat index in the city, but only for the students to be left with restrictive options in wanting to be comfortable in this scorching heat. In fact, weather unpredictability is not limited to a week; thus, lifting the wearing of uniforms in a short period of time will still be futile.

If the University cannot altogether abolish uniforms and dress codes, I posit that it is safe to relax some restrictions for now. Just recently, Mapua Malayan Colleges Mindanao released new dress code policies that have allowed modest sleeveless and shorts to let their students be comfortable in this weather pattern. The University has already shown us that it can be possible, as what happened in this year’s SADYA UFest, where the dress restrictions were lifted for the whole week. 

As weather patterns continue to be unpredictable and extreme, and the struggle against patriarchy persists, the University should start to be adaptive to what the school community needs. It should also not blur out the underside of the iceberg that this whole debacle is about: appearance is not a judgment of a person. This means that professionalism is an attitude and not based on looks; respect is earned and not just given to someone who has followed the rules religiously, and the blame is not directed at the victim but the beast. 

This article was published in the April 2024 Tabloid Issue of Atenews. Read it here:

About Aika Khent Zainab Rosete - Solana

Wanting to escape the responsibilities of being a Medical Biology student, Aika is Solana in the world of pens and papers, words and paragraphs. As Solana, she will strive to bring light like a sunshine to stories that are left in shadows.

End the silence of the gagged!

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