Dress to impress the rule at Illinois State

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Professors at Illinois State University are getting out the ruler to measure skirt length, as new dress-code policies come into effect.

The new policy implemented this term requires students to attend classes in “business casual attire” or risk losing 10 per cent of their grade in a class. The policy is at the discretion of professors.

The project is designed for second semester junior and senior marketing students, and for those in the business teacher education program.

Dr. Tim Longfellow, department chair of the Marketing Faculty at ISU, said the intention was to prepare students for a more professional atmosphere.

“I would say that the vast majority [of students] are supporting it. Businesses are very impressed with our students.”

Student criticism has been minimal according to Longfellow. “We’ve had this kind of freedom [of expression] thing, and questions about whether we’re [creating disadvantages for] those who can’t afford it.

“Business casual is a fairly vague term that covers a lot of different personal expression, and in order to help out disadvantaged students we are establishing a fund if they find themselves in need.”

Sarah Molibor, a second-year marketing major at ISU, approved of the project.

“I think it’s great, students are becoming more serious in the classroom.”

Molibar thought that some students were “overreacting” to the plans. “You can choose to not do your homework and lose marks, you can choose to not study for a test and lose marks, and now you can choose to dress up for class or lose marks.”

“It’s more of an active practice,” Dr. Longfellow added.

Students at the Richard Ivey School of Business, however, worried about the possible implications if such a practice caught on at Western.

“If a university is having trouble maintaining professionalism in class then they need to look at the students they are accepting and the atmosphere that the faculty is creating,” said Honours Business Administration one student Michelle Kilian said,

Marc Del Chiaro, an HBA two student, chimed in. “I don’t see any reason why Ivey students should need to [follow such a dress code] during regular classes. I don’t think it would affect our academic performance at all.

“However, I do think it affects our academic performance when we need to make a presentation to our class, or when a recruiter visits our school.”

Though it is early to tell whether this represents a trend, Longfellow has anecdotal evidence the dress code may be helping academic performance.

“One professor in particular has seen a marked improvement in his 8 a.m. class. Students are more attentive and involved with the subject matter at hand.”

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