Much Ado About a Dress Code


Summer has arrived on the Forty Acres, and that means students are wearing more shorts and tank tops—plus the requisite sweater for that frigid Texas air conditioning. In addition to the 90-degree temperatures, what’s also arrived is an online kerfluffle over the dress code at UT’s School of Nursing.

The feminist blog Jezebel expressed outrage this morning over a poster (left) reminding UT nursing students of the school’s dress code. “Revealing clothing MUST NOT be worn while in the School of Nursing Building. It distracts from the learning environment,” the sign read. The code, which can be read in full in the nursing school’s student handbook, bans clothing such as “short-shorts” and “low-rise pants.”

After an anonymous student sent in a photo of the sign posted in an elevator, Jezebel called the policy sexist, writing, “Pretty sure this is just directed at the female students … This is not how Longhorns roll.”

The story was later picked up by outlets like CultureMap and the Beaumont Enterprise—and by this afternoon, UT officials had taken the posters down, with UT spokesman J.B. Bird calling them “poorly worded.”

“A part-time employee put this sign up yesterday and the university found out about it at the same time as the world did,” Bird says. “The School of Nursing does have a dress code and it has had the current code for five years, but the signs were not what it’s about.”

The university also posted a statement on its Tumblr page, saying, “We made a mistake … We’re not in the business of measuring skirt lengths. We’re in the business of educating a new generation of nurses.”

Kathryn Wiley, public affairs representative for the School of Nursing, says the rules are designed to help students prepare for professional careers—and to look professional in front of patients in the building. “We have the dress code because these young men and women are going into clinical settings,” Wiley says. “There are labs in the building where they do clinical work. So we consider the School of Nursing to be a clinical setting just like a doctor’s office or a hospital, and students need to dress professionally for that kind of setting.”

The UT news comes in the wake of numerous other dress-code controversies around the country—such as an Illinois middle school’s ban on leggings and a Utah high school’s yearbook-photo airbrushing of students who didn’t conform to the dress code.

Below, see what people are saying online about the controversy:


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