Saturday, October 6, 2007

More on Dress Codes

I was reading The Philippine Star the other day and read the article "Dress Me Up, Dress Me Down" by Exie Abola, a blogger and teacher at the Ateneo de Manila University. Filed under the Star "Fashion" tab(?), he wrote about "[t]he climatic disturbance that threatens to turn into a storm...a proposed change in the dress code."

I wrote previously on a similar move from the authorities at Silliman University, where two of my daughters go. I also write this from a different perspective: My father, uncle, brothers and cousins went to the Ateneo. Some of my young nephews still do. There were stories of the old Padre Faura campus. I remember that in the 70's it was a big deal to colegialas that the High School boys wore casual clothes. I vaguely remember some sort of dress code at the time but it wasn't that much of a big deal. Ateneans being as they are, they were wont to outdress each other. My brothers still dress appropriately although I can't say for sure if it's due to their Jesuit education.

So it's hard for me to imagine Ateneans come to this state of "underdress." I would likely picture them to be more dressed "up". One point raised by the author was something that didn't arise in the Silliman discussion. Is it unique to the ADMU?


Stories abound of students who go out of the campus and meet others, perhaps to conduct an interview or other school business, wearing shorts and flipflops. It has happened in my own department. One of our literature majors who graduated just this past March applied for a teaching position with us this April and arrived for his job interview in — you guessed it — shorts and flipflops. Our chairperson, needless to say, was not amused and reminded the candidate that he wasn’t at the beach. (He didn’t get the job.)
The matter of dressing for church was also mentioned.
...we discussed the idea of a dress code for churches, a matter in the news a few months ago when bishops were reported to be miffed by the too-casual wear especially of the youth. During that session the class agreed on another statement: that the church is a special place deserving special treatment. Most of the students thought these two assertions were true, yet they had a hard time conceding that church officials were right in wanting tougher rules on what the congregation should wear.

People in Dumaguete mostly dress for church. I bet they still wear their new clothes to Sunday Mass to have them "blessed" before wearing them elsewhere. As a reminder however, or in obedience to Church hierarchy, there are posters at the bulletin boards.

The author raises his view as an educator while I write as an individualist and parent. Though there is concern on the youth's lack of propriety, I'd like to assume that we are both wary of the consequences of the implementation of dress codes in school campuses.

[Rules] are fashioned in the context of a relationship between the ruler and the ruled, boss and subordinate, parent and child, teacher and student. How the rules are accepted depends greatly on what kind of relationship exists between the two unequal parties. If the subordinate views authority with suspicion or even downright hostility, he will probably meet any move to control his behavior with resentment. I can imagine students packing flipflops and skimpy shorts and tops into their knapsacks to bring them out when they leave the campus and hang out in the coffee shops along Katipunan, brandishing their defiance on their bodies on the other side of the concrete highway.

And in the end, what will have been achieved? Will the new rules make people more respectful of others, more aware of decorum, more appreciative of the rules of propriety? Or will they only foment ill will? Isn’t it true that if the [relationship] is chilly, then being told how to dress up will only feel like being dressed down?

(Blogger's Note: Mr. Abola has graciously given his permission to quote from his work. You can read his blog and the article in full here.)

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