No leggings to college?

For the hundreds of students who entered the college this year, thinking they have left behind their uniforms in schools, the first days are always a disappointment. Several college managements in Chennai have taken the initiative to implement a dress code in the campus and also in hostels stringently this year. Though students lament about it, the management of institutions seem to believe that it helps in maintaining a conducive atmosphere in the campus.

Even the most popular arts and sciences colleges here have many restrictions, says Shruti Kamineni, a student of Stella Maris. The college is actually much liberal compared to others. The students are allowed to wear jeans but only with kurtis that drop over the knees. From this year, Loyola College has asked its women students not to wear leggings to the college. A senior professor says it becomes all the more important in co-ed institutions to have a dress code because this will help “check indiscipline.”

More than the dress code itself, it is the reason cited by officials for imposing them that are the most disturbing. Two years ago, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, proposed a dress code for students in an effort to render medical college campuses “sex-less.” Even earlier, Anna University banned T-shirts and jeans on campus, saying they contributed to indiscipline. “Subsequently, separate rows of seating for girls and boys were introduced. Most of these rules are still followed,” says a student. In colleges including Queen Mary’s College, students are supposed to sign an agreement that they will follow the strict dress code.


“At our college we are liberal, we give our students the freedom to wear what they want and we do not reprimand them to stick to any dress code,” says Ridley Waller, principal of Women’s Christian College. But students are given orientation about appropriate outfits to wear to college. At WCC, hostel students are not permitted to enter the dining hall in nightwear.

SNDB Vaishnav College in Chrompet had a strict dress code of only saree and half saree until the 1990s. Later the college permitted its students to wear salwar kameez with dupatta. “Dress code is very important as we are concerned about the safety of the students who commute in public transport,” says Dr. Rani, principal of the college. This year she has relaxed the rule by allowing jeans with a long kurta.

A student from VelTech University says if a student is found with opened-up sleeves, his parents are immediately summoned, reporting their son’s act of indiscipline. Strict formal wear for boys and loose salwar kameez for girls is what is mandated by the colleges of Sathyabama University and Vel Tech. Sathyabama University Chancellor Jeppiar reasons it out, “A college is like a temple or a church where you come to study in a very decent way. Dress codes are important to maintain that decency.” Many college authorities say that they impose dress code to protect women from harassment and eve-teasing.

Dr. Thangam Meganathan, chairperson of Rajalakshmi Engineering College, says that in a heterogeneous classroom there must be no vulgarity, obscenity and any distraction. “In a way we are training our students to adhere to dress code and this will be helpful when they take up jobs in IT industry or MNCs. Our youth seem to be at a loss when it comes to distinguishing between different types of outfits for different occasions.”

Strictest city?

Among all cities, while Delhi and Bangalore seemingly have the most flexible rules of dress codes, this year, reputed colleges in Bangalore too have banned ‘knit wear kurtas and short tops’ in some campuses. Chennai, say many, would definitely feature in the list of strictest cities and the strictest rules are witnessed in its private engineering colleges. “You have to pin your dupatta on both sides. A correspondent makes sure the rules are followed. The ones dressed in tight clothes invariably get blacklisted. We adhere to the rules because internal marks are very important to us,” says A. Padmapriya, a student of Jeppiar Institute of Technology.

In other cities, there are bans on sleeveless tops, no low-waist jeans and of course, no figure-hugging clothes. “Here we are still stuck with the notion that jeans are actually indecent,” says Ramya Balantarapu, who studied at Christ College and is pursuing her master’s at MCC in Chennai.

It is always the girls who have more restrictions than the boys. It’s not like people will wear a spaghetti top and walk around in college if there is no dress code but a blanket ban helps colleges exert the rules in the strictest possible way, and worst is, even parents support them, she adds.

However, many colleges including VIT University and SRM have a very liberal dress code. It is also because you have a number of foreign students taking admission here and the students come from different parts of the country. Dress codes might simply not work here, says Astha Bhasin, a student at SRM University.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 6:35:56 PM |

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