The new dress code rolled out by management of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) have been met with mixed reactions from students. While some students like the idea, others fault the code, reports CAMPUS GIST.
UNIBEN had over the week unveiled a book entitled, ‘A Handbook On Dress Codes For Students’, where a list of prohibited and acceptable dresses for both the male and female students of the school were listed.
Prohibited code for male students of the school include: singlet (coloured or plain), fez caps and dark glasses, sleeveless shirts, transparent clothing, body hugs, shorts, ear-rings, necklace, chain belt and low-waist trousers.
Dresses like spaghetti tops, long or short skirts with slit more than six inches above kneel level, transparent clothing (blouses or skirts), one-handed blouses, low-waist trousers, rugged jeans and wide-neck off-shoulder blouses and many others were prohibited for the female folks.
Although the launch of the UNIBEN handbook on dress code and introduction of dressing rules for students raised eyebrows, findings by this Online Medium, however, shows that UNIBEN is not the first citadel of learning to introduce such codes for students.
In many universities across Nigeria, including federal and state institutions, there are certain types of dressing which are prohibited by the school authorities and are not to be worn within the school premises by students.
The University of Ilorin (UNILORIN), Lagos State University (LASU), Kwara State University (KWASU) and the Bayero University, Kano; are equally on the unending lists of schools where indecent dressing are outlawed on their campuses.
In UNILORIN, for instance, every student must comply with the institution’s dress code by dressing decently, as the school insists, “the mode of dressing is a reflection of individual character and personality.”
Female students are required according to the code to avoid wearing “Short, Skimpy dress, Skirts above the knee, Tight trousers, See-through material, Un-packed hair, Fittings or Hair attachment.”
Hair extensions with colours such as; Blue, Green, White, Yellow, Red, Pink, and Purple or a combination of any of these colours are not acceptable; hair must be neatly packed and weaved and heavy makeups are disallowed.
For male students, the code prohibits “Sagging, Tattered Trousers, Knickers”, and “unacceptable hair-cut styles.” Curled hair is not acceptable; artificial dread locks, plaiting, weaving or braiding of hair are not acceptable.
“Body tattoos” by male students; “Leggings/Jeggings trousers with shorttop; Skimpy dresses e.g. Spaghetti, Camisole only, body hugs, topless blouse and shorts; Knickers” are also prohibited for students.
“Skin/ear piercing” by male students; “Dread, Galax, Fadeout and Rough Coil Haircuts, Unkempt Appearance; and Hair plaiting or weaving” by the male folks are highly prohibited on campus by the UNILORIN management.
Punishment for defaulters
Investigation by CAMPUS GIST revealed that the University of Ilorin has a strict dress code at least since 2013, to which it has reminded students each session to conform.
There is no word on level of compliance, however, but management prescribes that violations would be sanctioned according to its established Rules and Regulations.
In 2019, a student of the school got penalized and was served a dress code violation form ‘for wearing a jean and a long polo shirt within the school premises.’
The student took to social media to express how disappointed she was after her school identity card was seized and was asked to pay a fine of N2,000.
In Kwara State University, girls are not to wear sleeveless or blouses with deep cleavages, mini-skirts and transparent clothes; the boys cannot wear shorts, dungarees, earrings and afro hair style. They can also not sag their trousers or plait their hair. Both sexes cannot wear tattered (or flowery) jeans, heavy jewelry, ankle chain or slippers; nor can they pierce their bodies (nose, mouth, tongue).
On the dress code in KWASU, former Vice Chancellor, Professor Abdulrasheed Na’Allah, once defended the code saying the rules and regulations are not negotiable.
“There is a freedom in choosing where you go for education. Nobody is compelled to come to KWASU. Different factors are considered in choosing a particular university. Let the world know that KWASU has made a decision on the kinds of strategies it wants to operate. It is a choice the university has made.”
At the Lagos State University, our correspondent reports that banners listing the 19 prohibited dressings are displayed at strategic points on the campus.
Some of the rules are similar to KWASU’s. In addition, students are barred from using clothes with obscene inscriptions, fez caps or any other face covering, wearing ties loosely (for boys), rolling up sleeves, and wearing artificial hair beyond shoulder length, among others.
Harassment of students that do not comply with the dress codes starts from the gate. The eagle-eyed LASU security officials either frisk suspicious students or prevent anybody who falls foul of the dress code from entering the campus.
In line with the Bayero University’s role of training students in both character and learning, all students are required to dress decently in accordance/compliance with the Bayero University, Kano Dress Code.
BUK prescribes “acceptable and decent dress” as any type of dress worn by a student, that covers the body from top of the shoulders to midway between the knee and the ankle, and it must not be tight fitting or transparent.
It specifically forbids both the male and female students from putting on “Shorts, bare back and clinging dress, three quarter trousers (except for sporting purpose), tattered jeans and those with holes and transparent dresses.”
Others prohibited by the Kano varsity are: “Tight fitting dresses e.g. jeans and skirts that reveal body curves (this is also applicable to locally sewn dresses such as skirts and blouses); military and para-military camouflage etc.”
BUK disallows students from “wearing only under clothing such as singlet in public places, wearing “Swagger” and/or Sagging trousers and dresses, such as skirts, (which have long slits that reveal sensitive body parts); dresses and vests with obscene and indecent inscriptions and/or pictures; dress without buttons, or not properly buttoned, revealing bare chest.”
While the Bayero varsity forbids her students from “wearing jackboots, bathroom slippers and any other shoes with indecent inscription”, sunglasses are prohibited in lecture rooms and theaters (except on medical grounds). Plaiting/weaving, perming of hair and use of earrings and chain and bracelets by male students are also banned.
UNIBEN students react
Some students of the University of Benin applaud the dress code move; others are not comfortable with it. But the institution is defending their actions, warning that errant students will be sanctioned.
On the dress code, a male student, who craved anonymity, while speaking to CAMPUS GIST on Friday, said it would promote good behaviour on campus. He insisted the codes were “moral.”
“I think it will make us more responsible to a very large extent. The way some female students dress and go about on campus is far from decent. With the new dress code, I think some normalcy will be in place. The dress code should not be strange to any student who is morally and spiritually brought up,” he said.
But one female student dissenter at UNIBEN, who did not wish to be named, thinks the University was infringing on their rights and freedom as citizens by introducing such laws against indecent dressing on campus.
The student said, “Universities worldwide are supposed to be citadels of learning where students enjoy universality of freedom, though that freedom is not licensed. It is also assumed that anyone admitted into the university is matured, both in character and mind. These latest restrictions are a serious affront to our rights.”
SUG breaks silence
In its reaction obtained by CAMPUS GIST Friday, the UNIBEN Students’ Union Government said students should not pay the N200 attached to obtainment of the handbook as they are not aware of such levy.
While condemning management over alleged imposition of the said N200 for a copy, the SUG said no formal agreement was reached between the Union and management before such decision was taken.
The Union, however, failed to address the issue of the dress code (if they were right or wrong). But as students continue to clamour for adjustment to the codes, the SUG called on students to discontinue the N200 payments.
An official of the University who did not want his name mentioned, told CAMPUS GIST that the dress codes were introduced to instill discipline in students and stop indecent dressing.
He said the dress code was not new but just being enforced for the first time across all faculties. He said it was not to impinge on rights but to make the students learn to dress responsibly at all times.
“Why would you want to have as a student someone that wears slippers or shorts to class? Go and look at the mode of dressing in private universities, they look decent and wear shoes,” he said.
The top UNIBEN official added that the institution’s enforcement of proper dressing via the new dress code is to also guard against sexual harassment on campus.
“Sexual harassment is not an excuse by our colleagues (members of staff, including lecturers) but students can cause it through indecent dressing,” he said.
“Our students are awarded certificates in their various fields, not just for their brilliancy or intelligence, but in learning and character. Where then is the character if they cannot dress properly.
“This is a citadel of learning and besides, the way you dress is how you are addressed. True or false? Let’s learn then on how to dress properly so we can be addressed with good terms.
“Of course, we didn’t expect them (the students) to accept the rules with open arms, but these rules are not peculiar to UNIBEN alone. Like I said, they have been existing, we are only reiterating on them.”