Submitted by John Mark Vanderpool
The dress code at Asbury is a common item of debate on campus. Recently an article in The Collegian defended the dress code, citing that it invigorates and increases academic successes.
The article implies that at least part of the reason the dress code exists is to make sure that we always have that extra boost of cognitive abilities that business attire gives us, as well as being preparatory for the “real world.”
I think we all can agree that “dressing for success” is real phenomena. You don’t show up to a job interview at your average potential employer in flip-flops and a t-shirt. I can say that in my own personal experience, dressing professionally can make me feel more apt “to seize the day.”
However, this does not mean that I cannot be equally productive, attentive and inclined to abstract processing when I’m not wearing business attire. In fact, there are many instances in my life where I have been more productive in a learning environment wearing shorts.
What success are we dressing for anyway? Should we dress for success in full suits the way bankers and lawyers would? Or should we dress for success in shorts and flip flops the way Mark Zuckerberg does? What’s to say that as students we can’t be successful in comfortable clothes?
Dressing for success varies widely depending on culture and industry. You wouldn’t show up to an interview with a bank in a graphic tee and flip flops, and I doubt anyone interviews with a Silicon Valley tech start-up wearing a full suit. Why then does the university attempt to put a “one-size-fits-all” on “dressing for success”?
Context dictates dress and what’s considered appropriate. It isn’t uncommon or unacceptable to have a dress code. Bankers, to this day, must conform to a strict dress code that includes such things as skirt length, tattoos and neck ties. General George Patton believed all his officers should wear the officers’ tie to be successful. He followed the military codes to an extreme. But even these codes recognize context.
Shouldn’t dressing for success be case-by-case for the student? Recognizing these varying contexts, shouldn’t the dress code be by class, department and emphasis?
Ultimately, the only thing that controls the performance of a student in their role is the student. Their actions, including their dress, play a role in that. However, their dress and whether it will be a help or hindrance to their success is incredibly relative.
Considering that we are capable of making our own decisions, what really is the motivation behind the dress code? You’ll find no dress code in the Bible. Was David, the man after God’s own heart, not successful? And he danced around naked!
Why even have a dress code? Perhaps the university should trust its students to use discretion in dressing for success. What then is the university’s goal with the dress code? Is it our academic success? How could it be in its current state? Or is it possible that the university is more concerned with image? What looks better to a typical, white, middle-class, 45-year-old, Christian parent touring the university? Students in class and chapel in t-shirts, shorts and hats? Or students that are all dressed professionally? Could it be that the school is more interested in creating what they believe looks like the perfect Christian society?