Several principals have sought a circular to enforce the rule

The State government may soon issue a circular to all arts and science colleges across the State instructing their students not to wear T-shirts to classes or sleeveless dresses.

This follows a request from many government and private college principals, said officials. The issue was discussed at length at a recent meeting of principals at the University of Madras.

Sources said the higher education department received as many as 300 requests and complaints from principals. “We have also received many complaints from colleges outside the city. Many of the colleges have been asking for such a rule for more than two years now,” said an official.

As of now, there is no dress code in government arts and science colleges, while in many private colleges, girls are not permitted to wear leggings and tops that do not touch the knee level.

In some city colleges, women are asked to wear only salwar–kameez, while one college in Anna Nagar maintains a strict dress code of only saris.

Colleges such as Loyola College allow plain, printed and collared T-shirts, while the ones with text on them are not permitted. Some teachers are of the opinion that an order from the government will make it easy for institutions to enforce rules.

The problem was more with T-shirts, said principals. “Of late, you have girls and boys wearing T-shirts that have obscene words and messages. I recently fined a student who was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘love police.’

A male teacher said a dress code was necessary particularly in co-educational institutions. “Sometimes, women sitting on front benches wear such revealing tops that we have to request female teachers to talk to them,” he added.

The move has received sharp criticism too. Many academicians feel this is another assault on already threatened liberal values on campuses.

“We need to promote open-minded values on educational campuses. More importantly, dress code should not become an excuse for colleges to extract money through fines,” said M. Ravichandran, representative of a teachers’ union here.