ISU should undress their policy

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

September 20, 2007 Ed Cartoon

Students in the marketing department at Illinois State University are now required to attend classes in “business casual attire” or risk their grades.

ISU defends the policy on the basis the school is encouraging professionalism and preparing students for the working world; it claims students have been sent home from internships for inappropriate attire.

It claims business professionals who visit the school are impressed by the dress code and that students’ attention span has improved.

Few would dispute we live in an appearance conscious culture, but can dress really be related to academic performance?

A person’s dress can influence the way he or she feels and dressing up instills confidence and encourage professionalism.

In the business world first impressions are vital and improper dress hinders a student’s career opportunities, meanwhile it is the mandate of universities to prepare students for the working world.

In the classroom, however, a person’s dress does not influence his or her academic success. Thus, it is ridiculous to dock students marks for appearance.

Cost is another issue; postsecondary education is expensive without the additional cost of a new wardrobe.

One could argue such a policy undermines a school’s prestige. If a school is well-respected and students take pride in their studies, a dress code would not be necessary.

A dress code can also undermine students’ intelligence; many university students have enough common sense to know professional attire should be worn for interviews and special events.

Recognizing the importance of professional dress in business, schools can find a better method.

Perhaps instead of using an enforcement policy, the school might have fostered a culture where students were encouraged to dress appropriately rather than be forced.

At Western, the Richard Ivey School of Business encourages a culture of professionalism, rather than mandating a dress code. Many students dress up without a formal policy.

A better solution might be to make attendance at seminars on professional appearance mandatory or give marks to students who dress up.

Such knowledge is not something that should be taught in a classroom and professors should not be given the discretion to dock marks for appearance " business casual is an open term.

Although ISU is mandated with preparing its students for the professional business world, this policy is misguided to say the least and requires a revamp, if not a revocation.

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