by Matthew Pertz, Opinion Editor
Next September, you might not have to worry about sweating through your jeans in the Bluegrass heat thanks to an ASC proposal permitting shorts to be worn in class. Pending presidential approval, this bylaw strikes “shorts” from the list of restricted clothing, provided the shorts are an appropriate length.
“The shorts proposal was written as a result of student needs expressed in surveys and brainstorming sessions,” said Matt Jackson, student body president and author of the proposal. “Most students expressed dissatisfaction with the current limitations of the dress code, namely their inability to wear shorts to class and chapel.”
Approving shorts is good news for many. The possibility of approving shorts has been circulating since 2014, when leggings were approved for girls, but at the time, shorts were not on the table for the administration. This year, it’s possible that student government might be able to affect positive change with this new proposal — one that students have been fighting for years to achieve.
The benefits of bloomers are well-documented. Shorts are a blessing to so many people in the brutally humid months of the year. One could argue that wearing shorts is a professional trade-off because it’s far more proper to wear shorts and be comfortable instead of wearing pants and sweating.
Some might use the slippery slope logic to undermine the use of student choice to affect change. In 2014, many students believed that widespread rebellion — a.k.a. wearing leggings even though the administration had yet to issue a policy on them — was what forced the administration’s hand in allowing leggings to be worn.
The same voices that questioned the approval of leggings might ask if student rebellion caused the shorts proposal to reach President Gray’s desk. It’s fair to say that our standards aren’t always enforced today. Many observers have noted that particular students wear shorts regularly. Some students still fall below the current dress code by wearing sweatpants or hats on a regular basis.
“This dissatisfaction [with not being allowed to wear shorts] is rooted in the fact that some departments on campus enforce the dress code more strictly than others, while some departments seem indifferent,” said Jackson, validating those claims.
One could argue that wearing shorts is a professional trade-off because it’s far more proper to wear shorts and be comfortable instead of wearing pants and sweating.
However, Vice President of Student Development Sarah Baldwin emphasizes now that the proposal to allow shorts during class should be viewed as positive progress — a collaboration between student government and the administration to make student life better.
And, as a note to naysayers, the leggings rule was not approved due to rebellion: the widespread wearing of leggings by the student population merely caused the administration to call the clothing choice into review.
Baldwin explained to the Collegian in 2014 that she and resident directors came to the conclusion that “long, tunic-style tops or shirts over leggings — that cover generously — fit within appropriate standards of the current dress code.” The slippery slope logic did not apply then, and, according to Baldwin, it does not apply now.
Perhaps the major dilemma of this bill is that it creates more questions than answers — questions that could bum Bermudas bros. For example, what shoes go with shorts? Are socks allowed to show? Are socks fashionable to show? Are athletic shorts allowed? Are cargo shorts banned? And why not?
This addition could also call into question the interpretation of other dress code rules. Now that male calves could regularly be exposed, it’s worth asking whether grooming rules also apply to unruly masses of leg hair. Community standards state that Asburians “should refrain from extreme hairstyles. Hair should be neat and clean,” leading some to wonder what “extreme” hairstyles could crop up on uncovered limbs. Mohawks, gelled coifs, bowl cuts, lobs, Rastafarian braids and colonial wigs could become the norm when bare leg hair needs styling.
The end of the bill states, “This change … would ideally peak an interest in students to revisit the entire student dress code, which would thus better educate our students on why these guidelines are important and the purpose that they serve,” meaning that more dress code changes could be on the horizon soon.