By Mackenzie Haire, Contributing Writer

The ban against wearing shorts on campus ended in 1990, according to the chronological history of Asbury University. For the first time, students could wear shorts “in certain times and areas.”

As September temperatures remained in the high 80s, I think we are all glad for the amendment of that particular standard.

The dress code at Asbury is one of the most visible ways that we, as students, are set apart from other college communities. It can often be dismissed as “just a religious thing,” but the dress code exists for practical purposes, as well as spiritual.

Our objective in the classroom is different than our objective in the student center or the dorm buildings. Some of us may instinctively want to dress more professional in a learning environment, and some of us honestly don’t see why there should be a difference. Either way, Asbury requires us to dress to the occasion.

Concerning the class and chapel dress code, the online handbook states that our attire should be “appropriate for the business of being a student.” Assuming that the purpose of higher education is to prepare students for the career ahead of them, it makes sense to practice regarding our status as students as our “business.”

But does dressing more professionally actually affect our performance in class? A research team built of psychological scientists from Columbia, Northridge and California State Universities said yes.

The researchers noted that much work still needs to be done in this area, but initial findings support the idea that clothing does influence us cognitively. After five experiments conducted with student subjects, researchers found that “students wearing more formal clothing showed stronger inclinations towards abstract processing.”

Abstract processing, or “big picture thinking,” is a valuable trait in many workplace environments, especially classrooms.

However, the dress code can be a source of frustration or inconvenience among students, especially first-year students who may not be well-acquainted with this level of formality. Could wearing long pants in Hamann-Ray in August really be worth it?

Senior Rachal McKenzie sees value in Asbury’s fashion standard. “Different jobs have different dress codes. I think it’s good to get used to having a dress code, so that you’re prepared to dress a certain way if your employer wants you to,” she said.

If dressing formally in class is a good thing, then why don’t we wear uniforms? Why would Asbury allow us to wear cargo shorts, nose rings or Chacos?

Under the “Biblical principles” heading on the dress code, Asbury reminds us that our attire should reflect a “desire to glorify God in everything.” Appropriate wear and modesty honor God, but so does celebrating our unique qualities as his masterpieces. Self-expression is a privilege humans retain from being made in God’s image.

The beauty of God is expressed in both sunsets and seashells, deserts and oceans, galaxies and insect wings; there is complexity and variety in his reflection. As God’s creations, it is natural that how we dress would be just as complex and variable.

Our freedom to express ourselves through clothing is an important part of our identity. But we should be careful to observe whether or not our fashion choices are a byproduct of our self-confidence, and not vice-versa.

True identity is found in God, and we should live in that truth no matter what we’re wearing. But I’m glad to live on a campus where I can glorify God by dressing confidently in who He made me to be.