By ISABELL ANDREA M. PINE
The Faculty of Arts and Letters is known to be one of the most liberal colleges at the University of Santo Tomas. This culture of liberalism is something I believe to be one of the many beauties and privileges in becoming an Artlet. Ever since I enrolled in UST, it has been my goal to be accepted in this college and to be part of the Artlet community. I knew that UST would be a more conservative university unlike other universities because of its established Catholic identity, so to me, the Faculty of Arts and Letters is a breath of fresh air within a very strict and imposing system.
Unlike other colleges, there is a sense of compromise between the students and the faculty, especially when it comes to the dress code. The students are free to express their individuality and style as long as they follow a certain number of restrictions in the manner they present themselves. An example of this is how the male students were permitted to have long hair as long as it was tied in a neat fashion. Likewise, anyone is free to color their hair as long as the color they chose is not loud and striking, like pink, violet or pale blond. Girls were allowed to wear shorts and skirts as long as it is more than three inches from their kneecaps and there were no issues when it comes to adorning piercings, may it be male or female.
Unbeknownst to us students though, as time passed and we entered the current school year, this established culture began to dwindle little by little.
Ever since the local Student Welfare and Development Coordinator (SWDC) decided to do a stricter implementation on the Subject Code of Conduct, especially when it comes to the policy guidelines and conditions, the Artlets have been struggling with adjusting to the sudden restrictions when it comes to the dress code policy or what the UST student handbook calls as “good grooming”.
Now, male students who have long hair, tied properly in a bun or not, are being at risk of having their IDs confiscated by the guard and students with hair color not close to the shade of black are being reprimanded. Moreover in days of casual wear, especially in yellow days, girls who wear skirts, may it be more than three inches from their kneecaps or ankle length, are no longer permitted to enter the building, and boys who wear piercings are instructed to remove them upon entry.
It pains me to see my fellow Artlets aggrieved by the sudden loss of freedom of expression. The established compromise that is unique in the Faculty of Arts and Letters is replaced with a rigid form of ruling that does not improve the students’ relationship with the faculty. The issue also brings me to contemplate on the importance of the dress code in the handbook as it does not really address the needs of the students nor does it impact their performance behavior in class.
Is the enforced dress code policy really necessary or just another rule enforced in a system simply because it is the norm? And as students, do we not have the right to question, much more challenge a system that is potentially flawed and can be improved for the better? F
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Vol. 55, Issue No. 1 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link: https://issuu.com/abtheflame/docs/the_flame_vo._55_issue_no._1?fbclid=IwAR2a6lRhIqbWS0O29KnkGuhOGutDrqFfoPGkXUOeyaApRGmi_gFdWj0V4js